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Bianca Williams: People donating £130,000 to sacked police officers are 'confused', says Met Police chief

Met Police chief Sir Mark Rowley has weighed in on a controverisal fundraiser for two sacked police officers.

  • The head of the Metropolitan Police has said officers who have been dishonest should not be in the force

  • A fundraiser for two PCs sacked over the stop and search of two black athletes has raised over £134,000

  • Bianca Williams says she and her partner Ricardo Dos Santos are being attacked over the case

Watch: How the Met Police's stop and search of Ricardo Dos Santos and Bianca Williams unfolded

The head of the Metropolitan Police has suggested people donating to a fundraiser set up to support two sacked police officers are "confused".

Sir Mark Rowley's comments come after a watchdog found two PCs involved in the stop and search of Black athletes Bianca Williams and Ricardo Dos Santos to be guilty of gross misconduct.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) found PCs Johnathan Clapham and Sam Franks lied about smelling cannabis on the pair after pulling them over near their west London home in July 2020.

Despite the ruling, the two former officers have attracted plenty of sympathy, with an online fundraising page for the pair and their families fetching over £130,000 in donations within less than a week.

Messages left on the page described the case as "scandalous appeasement and scapegoating”, with another saying: “Stop destroying this once great police service the envy of the world."

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Athletes Bianca Williams and Ricardo Dos Santos speak to the media outside Palestra House, central London, after the judgement was given for the gross misconduct hearing of five Metropolitan Police officers over their stop and search. The disciplinary hearing has found the behaviour of two Metropolitan Police officers - Pc Jonathan Clapham and Pc Sam Franks - amounted to gross misconduct. Acting Police Sergeant Rachel Simpson, Pc Allan Casey and Pc Michael Bond were found not to have breached any standards. Ms Williams and Mr Dos Santos were stopped and handcuffed in Maida Vale, north London in July 2020 while driving along with their baby. Picture date: Wednesday October 25, 2023. (Photo by Jonathan Brady/PA Images via Getty Images)
Bianca Williams and Ricardo Dos Santos speak to the media after Wednesday's judgement (PA)

When asked about the case by Sky News' Trevor Phillips, Rowley suggested that some of the public anger that has followed could be due to people's lack of understanding of the case.

“It's pretty unusual, what's going on. The full verdict of that hearing isn't out yet. I think some people are confused about it because four officers said that they smelt cannabis, the panel I think believed two and disbelieved two others – I don’t yet understand the reasons for that," he said.

“The panel also said that there were no findings in relation with anything to do with racism in the case as well."

Williams and Dos Santos have been clear that they believe they were racially profiled when they were pulled over with their baby son in the back of the car.

The IOPC panel found PCs Franks and Clapham to have breached standards of honesty and integrity but not equality and diversity.

This alone, Rowley said, should be enough grounds for dismissal, telling Sky News: "If officers have been dishonest they clearly shouldn’t be in the force, that’s absolutely without doubt."

The other three officers in the case were not found to have breached any standards.

"We're getting blamed", Bianca Williams dismayed by backlash to hearing

Team GB sprinter Williams has said she has been subject to a "crazy" amount of trolling since the IOPC's verdict on Wednesday, 25 October, adding that she was "shocked" by the subsequent fundraiser.

She told BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour: “I have seen some of the comments that they shouldn’t have lost their jobs but they lied. The officers lied at the end of the day and there has to be a punishment towards that."

File [photo dated 29/9/2023 of Bianca Williams and Ricardo Dos Santos. A misconduct panel is set to deliver its decision on whether five Metropolitan Police officers are guilty of gross misconduct over the stop-and-search of the two black athletes. Olympic sprinter Dos Santos, 28, and his partner and Team GB athlete Bianca Williams, 29, made a complaint to the police watchdog saying they were racially profiled during an encounter on July 4 2020 with the group of officers. Issue date: Wednesday October 25, 2023.
Williams said she was 'shocked' by the fundraiser that followed the IOPC's verdict (Getty Images)

Williams added: “I am glad that people can see that they were lying but it’s one where we have got so much hate from the officers now losing their jobs and we are getting blamed for them losing their jobs when they lied and were being dishonest.

“I have had so many comments saying it wasn’t a racist situation. Why did they lose their jobs because it wasn’t a racist attack? The trolling has been crazy. We were trolled in 2020 – now it’s like 10 times worse.”

Claims about athletes' driving 'do not reflect reality'

Police told the misconduct hearing that they had pulled over Dos Santos due to the “appalling” and “suspicious” nature of his driving.

The couple were handcuffed and searched on suspicion of having drugs and weapons, but nothing was found.

Karon Monaghan KC said claims about Dos Santos's driving “do not reflect the reality”, adding that he did not speed around corners, indicated before all turns, did not drive through red lights and did not skid on the road.

Dos Santos had been stopped nine times within four weeks of buying a car in 2018, the hearing was told. Despite the panel's ruling, he remains adamant that he was detained for “DWB, driving while black”.

Met Police figures for March to July 2023 show that per 1,000 people, 8 black people were stopped and searched, compared to 2.5 white people. In 71% of cases, no further action was taken, while only 15% resulted in an arrest.

"A lot of people that we've come across have said, 'look, if the police need to do a stop and search, really need to do one, then fine'," said Habib Kadiri, executive director of campaign group StopWatch.

"But the treatment that's given to them during the stop and search is something that they find is really problematic."

"You have to ask the question, why are people being stopped so much and nothing being found in the vast majority of stops," she added.