A policeman cleared of racially abusing a black man despite calling him a monkey must still answer a case for gross misconduct, the police watchdog said today.
PC Kevin Hughes from the Metropolitan Police who was accused of calling black men monkeys was cleared in court after claiming he was discussing evolution.
Hughes’ colleague PC David Hair was also cleared of racism after he allegedly asked black policewoman Julia Dacres if she was going home to cook bananas.
The pair both admitted making the comments, but denied they were racially motivated.
They were cleared by a judge following a hearing at Westminster Magistrates Court on Thursday.
However, an investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has found the officers’ still have a case to answer, it was announced today.
It means the PCs could face internal disciplinary procedures by the Met and ultimately could still result in them being sacked.
IPCC Commissioner Mike Franklin urged bosses at the officers’ force to take action.
He said: “The IPCC’s investigation into alleged racist comments made by PCs Hughes and Hair concluded in June when we passed our findings of potential gross misconduct to the Metropolitan Police Service for their consideration.
“I urge the Metropolitan Police Service to give serious consideration to the issues raised in our report.
“Any misconduct hearing will need to determine whether the comments are a breach of the professional standards expected of police officers.”
Hughes, of Ingrave, Essex, and Hair, of Epping, Essex, both denied the claims of racism made against them by prosecutors.
However, both admitted making their comments but argued they were not racially motivated.
Both officers were cleared by Senior District Judge Howard Riddle on Thursday, who told them their actions dod “not amount to a criminal offence.”
During their trial the court Hughes was travelling in a squad car when he made the remark about a black man looking like a monkey to colleague PC Costas Dakoutros.
When challenged by PC Dakoutros, Hughes said “It’s true.
“They’re closely related to chimpanzees and more closely related to Neanderthals.”
The court also heard Hughes would talk in a mock-Asian accent call other officers “auntie” and “uncle”.
He admitted to referring to the man’s similarities to monkeys but claimed it was in a discussion about evolution.
Hair, of Epping, Essex, was alleged to have racially abused PC Julia Dacres while travelling in a police minibus last March 13.
He asked her if she was going to do some overtime and then said: “I didn’t know if you were going to go into a little rant and say how you had to go home and cook bananas.”
Hair admitted making the bananas comment, but denied that it was racially motivated.
The pair were both cleared of one count of using threatening, abusive, or insulting words or behaviour to cause another person harassment, alarm, or distress.
They were also found not guilty of an alternative charge of racially aggravated harassment.
Senior District Judge Howard Riddle said: “Whatever precisely Pc Hughes said, it was unacceptable and offensive.
“In these circumstances it did not amount to a criminal offence.
“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. Context is central.”
The IPCC carried out an independent investigation after a referral from the MPS in April 2012 in connection with alleged racist comments made by officers whilst on duty.