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

Tuesday, July 7, 2015
Police believe these four boys were in the area at the time and want to speak to them

A 14-year-old girl was forced into performing a sex act by two boys on her way home from school while another two teenagers filmed it on their mobile phones.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015
She was taking her savings to the bank when the thieves pounced

Shaheed Forde-Bryan from Rainham, east London went missing on Sunday June 14 and following a police appeal has today been found.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015
David Maxwell was stabbed in the back and the arm, and died in the street. Police still don't know why he was attacked (Photo: Metropolitan Police)

Two men have been sentenced to life in prison for knifing David Maxwell to death in Southwark last Halloween.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015
Mitchell Brook Primary School is in Neasden (Pic credit: Google streetview)

The hunt is on to find a man who attempted to abduct a girl near a primary school in Neasden.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015
Pensioner robbed on Duncombe Road N12

Two men pushed a 72-year-old woman down a flight of stairs and snatched her handbag full of savings in Upper Holloway, police said as they appeal for information.

Monday, July 6, 2015
Armed robbery at a Brixton convenience store (Picture: Met Police)

A gang of four hooded men threatened a Brixton Hill shopkeeper with a gun and a knife before making off with money, vodka and cigarettes, police said as they appeal for information.

What is this?

Near You Now

Don't Miss...

Competitions

Good times with Greenall's!

Good times with Greenall’s, a Great British gin sponsors Great British racing.

Read more
Escape to the picturesque sights of Cornwall

Summer is finally here, and what is the number one holiday location in the UK during the warmer months? Cornwall, of course!

Read more
Adrenalin junkies, this one's for you!

An icon of British engineering and a consistent favourite of James Bond, there are few names quite as legendary in motoring as Aston Martin.

Read more