Officer who wrote Met Police’s drug strategy accused of smoking cannabis daily

·2-min read
 (Joe Giddens/PA) (PA Wire)
(Joe Giddens/PA) (PA Wire)

A Scotland Yard commander who wrote the Metropolitan Police’s drugs strategy smoked cannabis daily, a misconduct hearing was told.

Commander Julian Bennett, who has been suspended on for two years on full pay, has also been accused of using LSD and magic mushrooms while also failing to give a drug sample in July 2020.

He was reported to the police by Sheila Gomes, who Mr Bennett took in as his lodger for eight to ten weeks in 2019.

Mr Bennett wrote the force’s anti-drugs strategy - Dealing with the Impact of Drugs on Communities - for 2017 to 2021.

His lawyer John Beggs QC, told the misconduct hearing in south west London that his client’s work was regularly praised by senior officers, including former commissioner Dame Cressida Dick.

Mr Bennett, who is in his sixties, had claimed he had taken cannabidiol, a form of medical cannabis, to treat facial palsy. Mr Beggs said: “Had he taken a drug test on July 21, 2020, he might well have tested positive for an entirely innocent reason.”

He also questioned why the police were now seekign written, rather than oral evidence from Ms Gomes, something which deny any cross-examination fro mthe counsel.

Mark Ley-Morgan QC, representing the police, said Bennett’s explanation for refusing to give a sample for the test – that he had taken CBD (cannabidiol) for a medical condition that caused embarrassing facial symptoms – was implausible.

“He tried to resign on the spot, asked someone to go to speak to the commissioner and ask if she would let him resign,” said Ley-Morgan.

“He then provided an explanation for why he thought his sample might be positive. Why would you provide that explanation but then refuse to give a sample? It makes no sense.”

He said the refusal “does make sense if you think your sample will reveal that you are a habitual user of cannabis” or that it would be inconsistent with use of CBD oil.

The tribunal panel will give its decision on whether the case should continue on September 30.