Fundraiser set up for Met Police officers sacked over athlete search

More than £37,000 has been raised to help support two former Metropolitan Police officers, a day after they were sacked over the stop and search of two black Olympic athletes.

The money has been pledged on a JustGiving crowdfunding page which states that the aim is to raise £50,000 to “support the officers and their families” at “a time of great austerity”.

Ex-constables Jonathan Clapham and Sam Franks were sacked on Wednesday after a disciplinary panel found their actions during a “highly distressing” stop and search of Team GB athlete Bianca Williams, 29, and her partner, the Portuguese sprinter Ricardo Dos Santos, 28, amounted to gross misconduct.

Bianca Williams stop and search
Bianca Williams and Ricardo Dos Santos (James Manning/PA)

It was found they lied about smelling cannabis when they pulled over the couple on July 4 2020.

By Thursday at 10pm, some 1,798 supporters had pledged £37,241 to the fund which was also drawing criticism online.

The police followed the athletes as they drove to their west London home from training with their baby son, then three months old, in the back seat of their Mercedes.

They were accused of racially profiling the couple alongside fellow Met officers Acting Police Sergeant Rachel Simpson, Pc Allan Casey and Pc Michael Bond – who were found not to have breached any standards.

The misconduct panel heard they followed Mr Dos Santos in their police carrier because of the “appalling” and “suspicious” nature of his driving and were doing their duty when they conducted the stop and search.

The couple were handcuffed and searched on suspicion of having drugs and weapons after they were pulled over outside their property, but nothing was found.

During his evidence, Mr Dos Santos accused the officers of detaining him for “DWB, driving while black”.

The hearing was told Mr Dos Santos was stopped nine times within four weeks of buying a car in 2018.

Ms Williams cried as she watched footage of Mr Dos Santos getting pulled from the driver’s seat to the roadside and handcuffed.

Author Alice Vinten, a former officer, condemned the donations in a tweet which said the officers had been “dismissed for lying about smelling cannabis during a stop and search on a black couple and their baby. Is this what we do now? Raise money for lying cops?”

The crowdfunding page, which notes the officers were dismissed without notice, states: “This comes at a time of great austerity where both will be affected by mortgage payments, food bills and general cost of living.

“Despite people’s personal views on this decision; this page has been created to solely support the officers and their families at this difficult time. So please refrain from airing them on this platform.

“Every penny will go to the support of the officers and their families.

“Any support will be greatly received and appreciated.”

Messages left on the fundraising page described the situation as “scandalous appeasement and scapegoating” and this is a “total joke of a country”.

Another message commented “stop destroying this once great police service the envy of the world”.

Bianca Williams stop and search
Bianca Williams and Ricardo Dos Santos arriving at the misconduct hearing (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Earlier this year, Ms Williams won bronze in the 4x100m at the World Athletics Championships. Mr Dos Santos competed at the Tokyo 2021 Olympics in the 400m.

After the ruling, Ms Williams told the BBC: “It shouldn’t have taken three years to get to this result but I am happy that this is the result and this is, like I said, a huge step in the right direction for people who continue to get stopped by the police and have that same old excuse about smelling of cannabis when nothing has been found.”

She fought back tears as she added: “It fills me with so much emotion, even now.

“It’s just really hard, even just driving the car, whenever I see a police car I am always just looking, I’m always on edge because who knows what they are going to do? Who knows if they are going to follow me now.”

After the ruling, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Matt Ward said the couple “deserved better and I apologise to them for the distress they have suffered.”

He said: “Honesty and integrity are at the core of policing and, as the panel has concluded, there can be no place in the Met for officers who do not uphold these values.”

He added that the panel’s findings highlight they “still have a long way to go to earn the trust of our communities, particularly our black communities, when it comes to our use of stop and search”.