‘Odious’ police officer claimed fake girlfriend had died of cancer to get time off

·3-min read
Harry Sarkar spun a web of lies to to convince his bosses to let him have bereavement leave (West Midlands Police)
Harry Sarkar spun a web of lies to to convince his bosses to let him have bereavement leave (West Midlands Police)

A police officer who claimed his “fake girlfriend” died of cancer to get days off work would have been sacked for the “odious” gross misconduct had he not resigned, a chief constable has said.

Harry Sarkar, 21, a constable with West Midlands Police, “maintained a detailed tissue of lies to colleagues and supervisors about a fake girlfriend, her fake illness, her fake death, and subsequent fake funeral”, the force said.

The student officer resigned before the fast-track misconduct hearing at the force’s Birmingham headquarters on Thursday, which would have seen him dismissed without notice had he still been on the payroll.

Opening the case against Sarkar – who declined to show up for the 13-minute hearing before chief constable Sir David Thompson – force professional standards said Sarkar’s sympathetic bosses signed off “sick leave” and other benefits after relying on his lies.

The public would not expect this from an officer and will be concerned over the obvious odious nature of such a misrepresentation

Chief Constable Sir David Thompson

Sarkar received three days’ bereavement leave and benefited from more flexible working hours than his colleagues, it is understood.

Detective Chief Inspector Az Ahmed told the hearing the officer quit in March.

The offending took place between October 2020 and June 2021, with Sir David saying the officer’s behaviour undermined the standards of honesty and integrity, which are “fundamental requirements for a police officer”.

At the time – during the second and third Covid lockdowns – the force was under strain as a number of officers tested positive for the disease.

The chief constable said: “This case concerns a protracted period, with the officer creating a fictional relationship where the other party was suffering from cancer and died.

“This enabled supervisors to allow enhanced flexibility in his working.

This was a regular repeated behaviour over a substantial period of time

Chief Constable Sir David Thompson

“These ‘truths’ were repeated and developed over a sustained period of time.”

He added: “While this case is not one that has compromised an investigation or involves the officer using powers in bad faith, it is more than a small irregularity.

“Given it concerns a lie about the serious illness or death of a partner, (and) was perpetuated for a considerable period to the team, and special allowances were created, it raises worrying character traits for the officer.

“The public would not expect this from an officer and will be concerned over the obvious odious nature of such a misrepresentation.

“I also feel there are aggravating factors.

“This was a regular repeated behaviour over a substantial period of time.

“It was a significant abuse of trust with colleagues and supervisors.

“There’s no obvious mitigation or reason to excuse this behaviour.”

Concluding the hearing, he said “no other sanction would have been suitable and officer would have been dismissed without notice and accordingly”.

The former constable’s name has been be added to the register barring him from being a police officer.