Police vetting process branded ‘a mess’ after Muslim officer’s ‘racist’ tweets spark investigation

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Constable Ruby Begum - Dave Rushen/SOPA Images/Shutterstock
Constable Ruby Begum - Dave Rushen/SOPA Images/Shutterstock

A hijab-wearing officer who became a poster girl for Scotland Yard has been referred to the police watchdog for racist tweets, prompting the Met's former most senior Asian female officers to brand the force's vetting process “a mess”.

Constable Ruby Begum, a Muslim police officer hailed as a role model for bravely confronting anti-lockdown protesters last year, is facing an urgent investigation over her use of social media. 

Prior to joining the force in 2016, Pc Begum, 26, is alleged to have tweeted a torrent of racist messages and been in regular contact with a suspected female jihadi in Syria.

She frequently used the offensive term “kuffar” to describe non-believers, writing in July 2014: “Kuffar lips have been all over my mug there is no way I’m using that thing again”.

Other posts included derogatory references to Pakistanis and members of the Jewish faith.

Upon hearing the allegations on Friday, the Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS) immediately conducted a formal assessment and determined a “conduct matter should be recorded against the officer”.

The Met then made a voluntary referral to the Independent Office for Police Conduct who determined that the matter should be investigated locally. 

The Met’s DPS will now conduct a thorough investigation to establish the full circumstances behind the social media posts.

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However, such actions prior to service as a police officer must be placed in context during any subsequent investigation, The Telegraph has been told.

Shabnam Chaudhri, a former Detective Superintendent who was subjected to racist abuse regularly during her 30-year career, said offensive views in potential officers should be exposed prior to joining, but the vetting process was “dated” and “in a mess”.

Speaking exclusively to The Telegraph, Ms Chaudhri, said: “People will have all sorts of opinions, there’s nothing wrong with that [but] when you become a police officer you’ve got to serve with integrity, and must be impartial. 

“If you are a Muslim, as in this particular case, when you’re out dealing with the Jewish community the Afro-Caribbean community or any other faith or background, you’ve got to deal with your concerns with those individuals impartially.

“You do have to be held to account. I’m not saying necessarily sack the officer, but you’ve got to do something. It’s out there in the public domain now, so it’s got to be subject to an investigation.”

Miss Begum, who works for the Met’s Taskforce, a division which deals with public order, has been active on Twitter since 2012, posting more than 25,000 messages.

She has been informed an investigation has been launched into her conduct and placed on restricted duties.

The suspected ISIS female with whom she communicated uses the online name Muslimah4Life, according to the Mail on Sunday.

In one tweet, Muslimah4Life said she was using a Yazidi slave as a maid: “My maid (slave) taught me how to bake a Syrian bread, finally I made one on my own today. Alhamdulilah [praise be to God].”

Miss Begum’s Twitter account records her contact with Muslimah4Life throughout September and October 2014, months after ISIS declared its so-called caliphate in Syria.

Ms Chaudhri said just because Pc Begum had allegedly been in touch with a member of an extremist group “that doesn’t necessarily mean that she has held strong views, it may be that she’s supporting somebody that’s in need,” adding, “she must be held to account”.

“I do think that the Met will look into this with a lot of detail and with a lot of fairness. They’ll make a decision not based on just her opinions,” she told The Telegraph.

“I hope the Met looks into her previous history and her service as a whole; whether she’s stopped and searched certain communities, whether she’s had complaints that have gone nowhere, whether there’s any other form of intelligence or information that is linked to her.

“You’ve got to police with impartiality, with integrity and be ethical in your approach. If she has demonstrated all of those since she’s joined the service, then the organisation has got to hold her to account now, but make a decision based on the facts as they are presented to them.” 

A spokesman for the Police Federation, which represents more than 130,000 police constables, sergeants and inspectors, declined to comment as the case “could potentially involve a disciplinary matter”. 

The Met Police said in a statement: “There is no place within the Met for any racist, homophobic or otherwise hateful attitudes and officers and staff can expect robust action should they be found to hold or express such views.”

They said the information concerning the social media posts was “concerning” and is being treated “very seriously”.

The Telegraph understands the investigation will take up to 30 days.

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