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Six former Met officers who sent racist Whatsapps about Meghan and Sunak spared prison

Former Metropolitan Police officer Michael Chadwell w was found guilty of sending a racist message on Whatsapp  (Jonathan Brady/PA Wire)
Former Metropolitan Police officer Michael Chadwell w was found guilty of sending a racist message on Whatsapp (Jonathan Brady/PA Wire)

Six former Metropolitan Police officers have been spared prison after sharing dozens of racist messages on WhatsApp.

More than 60 texts with offensive content were shared between members of the group between September 2020 and 2022, including references to the Duchess of Sussex, the late Queen and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

Michael Chadwell had shared a graphic which had been created by someone else in the “Old Boys Beer Meet – Wales” group of retired officers, which showed a picture of different coloured parrots above an image of children of different races.

Former Metropolitan Police officer Robert Lewis arrives at the City Of London Magistrates' Court (PA)
Former Metropolitan Police officer Robert Lewis arrives at the City Of London Magistrates' Court (PA)

Text on the images said “Why do we cherish the variety of colour in every species… but our own?”, underneath which a comment in response said “because I have never had a bike stolen out of my front yard by a parrot”.

All six men were charged with improper use of a public electronic communications network offence, contrary to the Communications Act 2003.

The charges, which relate to messages shared between September 2020 and 2022, came after a BBC Newsnight investigation in October last year which prompted a probe by the Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards.

Michael Chadwell, 62, Peter Booth, 66, Anthony Elsom, 67, Trevor Lewton, 65, Alan Hall, 65, and Robert Lewis, 62, were all sentenced to between six and 14 weeks’ imprisonment – suspended for 12 months – at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said.

Anthony Elsom admitted sending an offensive message of William and Kate greeting black children (Lucy North/PA Wire)
Anthony Elsom admitted sending an offensive message of William and Kate greeting black children (Lucy North/PA Wire)

Chadwell, Booth, Elsom, Lewton, Hall and Lewis were all members of the “Old Boys Beer Meet – Wales” group chat, where a number of racist, homophobic and sexist messages were exchanged, the CPS said.

Robert Lewis, was a Home Office official before he was dismissed for gross misconduct last November, the Government department said.

The retired officer, of Camberley, Surrey, admitted eight counts of sending by public communication grossly offensive racist messages.

One of the messages he admitted sending was an image of Mr Sunak, Ms Patel and Mr Javid with a mock street sign that read: “Browning Street SW1”.

Lewis was sentenced to 14 weeks’ imprisonment suspended for 12 months, 200 hours of unpaid work and 20 Rehabilitation Activity Requirement Days.

Trevor Lewton arrives at the City Of London Magistrates' Court for sentencing (PA)
Trevor Lewton arrives at the City Of London Magistrates' Court for sentencing (PA)

He was also sentenced for possessing two friction batons in a private place, contrary to section 141(1A) of the Criminal Justice Act 1988, and was fined £500.

Hall, from Stowmarket, Suffolk, was given eight weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for 12 months and 140 hours of unpaid work.

Chadwell, from Liss, Hampshire, was given 10 weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for 12 months and 100 hours of unpaid work.

Peter Booth, 66, of Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire, pleaded guilty to four counts of sending by public communication grossly offensive racist messages, including a photo featuring the late Queen and Philip with a golliwog doll, accompanied by an offensive caption.

Booth, who retired from the Met in April 2001, received eight weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for 12 months and 140 hours of unpaid work.

Elsom, from Bournemouth, Dorset, admitted sending a photo of William and Kate greeting young black children, with imposed speech bubbles containing racist remarks.

He was sentenced to eight weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for 12 months and 40 hours of unpaid work.

Lewton, from Swansea, South Wales, received six weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for 12 months and 65 hours of unpaid work.

Adeniyi Ogunleye, senior crown prosecutor at the CPS, said: “It is shocking that six retired police officers who spent their careers upholding the law could think it was acceptable to send these grossly offensive messages.

“The sentences given today clearly demonstrate that they were not just shocking or disturbing jokes, but grossly offensive messages that amount to criminal behaviour.

“This case sends a clear signal that whenever our legal test is met, the CPS will prosecute these offences robustly.