Legal battle over decision to reinstate senior police officer despite conviction

·2-min read

The Metropolitan Police are waging a legal battle over the sacking of a senior officer who was convicted of possessing a child abuse video.

Superintendent Novlett Robyn Williams successfully appealed against the decision to dismiss her earlier this year and was reinstated as a police officer.

But the Met are now applying for a judicial review, saying they believe the panel that overturned her sacking failed to properly assess the seriousness of her conviction.

The highly decorated officer, who was commended for her work after the Grenfell Tower disaster, was sentenced to 200 hours of community service for possession of an indecent image in November 2019.

Ms Williams arriving at the Old Bailey for sentencing
Novlett Robyn Williams arriving at the Old Bailey for sentencing (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

She was dismissed from the Met with immediate effect after a special disciplinary hearing in March 2020 found her conviction amounted to “gross misconduct”.

In June, the Police Appeals Tribunal (PAT) found that she should not have been sacked, and instead should have received a final written warning.

On Tuesday, a Metropolitan Police spokesman said the force is seeking judicial reviews of two cases where sackings were overturned by the PAT.

Details of the second case have not been released because the PAT panel decided the officer’s identity should not be disclosed.

The Met spokesman said: “In both cases the Met believes there was a failure by the PAT to make a proper assessment of the seriousness of the convictions.

“The Met also finds the duty to reinstate, as a result of the decisions of the PAT, is also in potential conflict with vetting processes.

“In challenging the legal principles leading to the PAT’s decisions, the Met is seeking to ensure a lawful and consistent approach to misconduct hearings in the future, bearing in mind there is a serious issue about how disciplinary panels and PAT’s approach criminal convictions.

“These PAT rulings currently leave a lack of clarity for disciplinary panels in determining the outcome of such conduct cases and this has an associated impact on public confidence.”

Both Ms Williams and the individual involved in the second case have been reinstated as police officers while legal proceedings continue.

During Ms Williams’ trial at the Old Bailey, jurors heard how she received a child abuse video via WhatsApp from her older sister Jennifer Hodge, 57, so that the officer could investigate the footage.

But she failed to report the clip, and while the court accepted she had not viewed the video the jury was not convinced she was unaware of it being on her phone.

Ms Williams, who was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal for distinguished service in 2003, had her appeal against her conviction for having a child abuse video on her phone refused by the Court of Appeal in February.

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