Police sergeant sacked after 'sleeping around' comment about murder victim

Detective Sergeant Imran Rafiq
-Credit: (Image: Radio Dawn 107.6 FM)

A Nottinghamshire Police sergeant has been sacked after making misogynistic comments about a murder victim - and telling an officer to manipulate a statement in another murder case. Detective Sergeant Imran Rafiq told a young female officer, after the death of Clair Ablewhite, words to the effect of: “Let this be a life lesson to you, don't go sleeping around.”

The 47-year-old mum-of-three was stabbed to death by John Jessop at her home in Colston Bassett in February 2022. Mr Rafiq instructed the same officer to change the witness statement of the daughter of killer Lawrence Bierton, who murdered Pauline Quinn in Worksop in November 2021.

He then covered it up, deleting emails and lying about it to a colleague. A misconduct hearing, which concluded on Thursday, July 11, found the breaches amounted to gross misconduct. Mr Rafiq, who had been suspended on full pay for one and a half years, was dismissed without notice and barred from policing for life.

Get the latest news straight to your phone by joining us on WhatsApp

Oliver Thorne, the legally qualified chair, said most of the actions would have been worthy of dismissal on their own, including sending the junior officer to obtain the statement in the first place. "He knew altering the witness statement was entirely improper," he said.

"He [deleted emails] precisely because he wanted to minimise the chance of detection." Mr Thorne described the misogynistic comment as "no less than scurrilous" and "utterly lacking in respect".

"It was outrageous to offer advice like that to a woman in a place of work." The graduate officer, referred to as Miss A, described the Ms Ablewhite comment as "inappropriate" and the officer as "sexist, misogynistic, derogatory towards people in the office, towards victims of crimes" and added it made her feel "disgusted" and "extremely alone".

Mr Rafiq previously told the hearing he did not recall making the comment about Ms Ablewhite but said he intended to warn his colleague about the dangers of online dating. The dad-of-three, who has more than 20 years of policing experience, argued she "got the wrong end of the stick".

Clair Ablewhite
Clair Ablewhite was murdered in her own home in 2022 -Credit:Nottinghamshire Police

Whilst working in the East Midlands Special Operations Unit, Mr Rafiq instructed Miss A to manipulate the statement of the daughter of killer Bierton, who murdered 72-year-old Mrs Quinn at her home. Bierton, 63, who had already served jail time for murdering two women in Rotherham, was handed a life sentence in December 2023.

After realising the statement taken by Miss A on January 13, 2022, was missing parts from the end, Mr Rafiq told her to fill it in and not tell anyone. He told the hearing the advice had been a joke also shared by Detective Constable Alex Warburton.

“I thought we would bring her in on some banter but it was an error of judgement," he said. Miss A, who was "barely weeks out of training", went on to change the statement because "my sergeant told me to" but handed her notice in later that year, after she raised concerns about the incident.

Pauline Quinn
Pauline Quinn -Credit:Nottinghamshire Police

When being asked about the events on Monday, Miss A told the hearing: "It was not a joke, neither of the officers were smiling or laughing or saying it in jest. I'm serious when it matters, I know my values but I can also have a laugh and I know when something is a joke and when it is not."

Mr Rafiq was also found to have tried to cover up the manipulation of the statement, including telling Detective Constable Kim Priestley that the missing words were found when they pressed the undo button. He also deleted emails with the original and altered witness statements.