Met’s ‘poster girl’ in £144,000 claim for damages from police watchdog

Tim Stewart and Tristan Kirk
Damages claim: Carol Howard

A former Met Police firearms officer who lifted the lid on bullying and victimisation at Scotland Yard is now claiming £144,000 in damages from the police watchdog alleging it is “institutionally racist”.

Carol Howard, 39, won a £37,000 payout from the Met in 2015 over her treatment as one of only two black officers and 12 women in the elite 700-strong Diplomatic Protection Group.

The former firearms PC, who appeared on a poster promoting the protection of Londoners during the 2012 Olympics, revealed she had been targeted by a “malicious, vindictive, and spiteful” boss.

She left the Met after the tribunal win and joined the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) as an investigator in 2016.

She has now taken the watchdog to an employment tribunal over claims she was locked out of investigations and treated as an “embarrassment”.

Payout: PC Carol Howard won £37,000 from the Metropolitan Police

Giving evidence yesterday at the Central London Employment Tribunal, Ms Howard, from Coulsdon, claimed the watchdog deliberately frustrated enquiries to protect senior police officers under investigation.

She said: “The white managers I worked with are not independent and believe that their duty is not to investigate wrongdoing officers but to protect the reputation of the police force concerned and its senior officers in particular. They are corrupt.

“In my view, the IPCC is an institutionally racist employer. It is therefore unfit to investigate claims of race discrimination against the police.

“It is corrupt and not fit for purpose. It is neither independent nor impartial. It protects senior white police officers.”

Ms Howard told the tribunal she was initially turned down for a job by the IPCC, but was successful second time around in October 2016, when she used her married name, Carol McCabe. She then changed her name back to ‘Howard’ on the police system, and believes the IPCC feared the Met would see her appointment as an “act of revenge”.

“I was treated as an embarrassment to them as my presence would annoy the Met and my visible presence may cause a meltdown”, she said.

Ms Howard said she was immediately banned from working on any IPCC case involving the Met, and later on she found herself sidelined in other major investigations.

“I believe that the IPCC moved to restrict me and hide me away”, she said.

“Rather than believe in me, they believed in their own need to protect their reputation by not upsetting the Met.”

In her claim for damages, Ms Howard argues that black and ethnic minority IPCC officers are “treated differently” from their white colleagues and suffer from a “hostile working environment”.

She left the IPCC after six months in March 2017 when her contract was not renewed.

The IPCC, now replaced by the Independent Office for Police Conduct, is fighting Ms Howard’s claim over loss of earnings and injury to feelings, denying all the allegations made against it.

A spokesperson said: “We completely refute all of the allegations made by Carol Howard and are robustly doing so at the employment tribunal.”

The tribunal, expected to last two weeks, continues.