Newham police officers found not guilty of racism

16:42 29 November 2012

PC Kevin Hughes, 42, from Brentwood, was found not guilty of making racist comments. Picture: PA Wire/Press Association Images

PC Kevin Hughes, 42, from Brentwood, was found not guilty of making racist comments. Picture: PA Wire/Press Association Images

PA Wire/Press Association Images

A Metropolitan Police officer who admitted comparing a black man to a monkey while out on patrol in Newham has been cleared of racially aggravated harassment.

PC Kevin Hughes, 36, of Brentwood, Essex was also found not guilty today at Westminster Magistrates’ Court of using threatening words or behaviour to cause alarm and distress,

His colleague, PC David Hair, 42, of Epping, was also cleared of both charges following a three-day trial.

The court heard PC Hughes say he made the comments on February 22 because he saw a black man with “elongated arms” and a “gait” like a monkey while out on patrol with three colleagues in Green Street.

But the officer, of Brentwood, Essex, said it was “upsetting” that anyone would think he was racist.

The man was black but Hughes said he only had a “fleeting glance” at him. But he admitted saying he used the word “chimpanzee” to describe him.

PC Hair, 42, was accused of allegedly telling, on March 13, a female black colleague, PC Julia Dacres, he thought she was going to “rant” about overtime and not do any because she was “going home to cook bananas”.

Senior District Judge Howard Riddle said: “Whatever precisely PC Hughes said, it was unacceptable and offensive.”

He said that “in these circumstances it did not amount to a criminal offence”.

Noting that “context is central”, Mr Riddle pointed out there had been no aggression or threat.

He said: “Freedom of speech is a cherished principle. Freedom of speech includes the freedom to be offensive.

“It is, of course, restrained in a number of ways - employers can require employees to avoid offensive language or lose their jobs. The civil courts can provide redress for harm caused.

“But when the state tells people what they can or cannot say, on pain of criminal sanction, the position is different. Citizens expect strong justification for curtailing freedom of expression. Offensiveness is not enough.”

Sign up for our news alerts today!

Our editors' picks for the day's top news delivered to your inbox or phone.

Sign up for email alerts Sign up for mobile alerts
1
2 3 4 5 6
7

Latest Crime news

Monday, August 3, 2015
Police stopped the car along City Road.

A shotgun and several knives have been recovered by police after a car was stopped in Islington this afternoon.

Monday, August 3, 2015
He leans right over the tracks - then jumps down onto them (Photo: YouTube)

A trainspotter’s camera caught a reckless man jumping onto the tracks at Peckham Rye Overground station to rescue his mobile phone.

Monday, August 3, 2015
The victim was dragged into a secluded area near Tudor Close and raped (Photo: Google StreetView)

Police are appealing for witnesses after a woman was raped near Tudor Close in Brixton Hill in a seemingly random attack on Sunday.

Sunday, August 2, 2015
A woman, 35, was found with severe stab wounds before being pronounced dead at the Chelsea address

A woman died from stab wounds early this morning in Chelsea and police have launched a murder investigation.

Friday, July 31, 2015
Thornton Way in Hampstead Garden Suburb

Two women were attacked and made hostages in their own home in a terrifying raid on their Hampstead Garden Suburb house.

Friday, July 31, 2015
One of the men can be seen with a shotgun

This is the terrifying moment a masked gang armed with a shotgun and crowbars broke into a house in Gidea Park – after pulling up in a Porsche.

What is this?

Near You Now

Don't Miss...

Competitions

Get your hands on some fresh trainers!

Need some new shoes to head to work or some new heels for a night on the cobbles? London24 has teamed up with online retailer Sole Trader to offer £100 worth of shoes to one lucky reader.

Read more
Take in the stunning sites of London from the summit of the O2!

Up at The O2 has teamed up with London24 to give one lucky reader the chance to experience urban mountaineering this summer with an exhilarating 90-minute climb across the roof of one of London’s most iconic landmarks.

Read more
Terrific tea, creamy cakes and splendid sandwiches at Mews of Mayfair.

Celebrate a truly quintessentially British tradition with the chance of winning a luxurious Afternoon Tea for two people at Mews of Mayfair, complete with a glass of Veuve Clicquot champagne.

Read more