Over the past few months, we have been supporting Kristina O’Connor’s case against the Metropolitan Police for failing to sanction an officer who sexually harassed her. We are pleased to announce that the High Court has now given Kristina permission to proceed with her judicial review of their actions. The hearing date will be set by the High Court in the coming weeks.
In 2011, after Kristina was mugged, the police officer who dealt with her case, DCI James Mason, abused his position by asking her deeply personal questions with a heavy sexual overtone. He invited her to have dinner with him, sent her grossly inappropriate emails, containing unwelcome advances, and stated that rejecting him would be “frowned upon”.
Even though the Police Misconduct Panel found DCI Mason guilty of eight counts of gross misconduct, they let him keep his job and rank. He walked out with nothing more than a written warning.
The Court’s permission means the failings that led to this shocking state of affairs will get a proper airing and that the Court believes Kristina has an arguable case.
Kristina O’Connor told us: “I welcome this decision from the High Court, not only as a step towards justice being served in my case, but also as a step towards institutional changes, so that justice can be served in all future cases. Being given permission to proceed gives me hope that women’s voices are beginning to be heard at the highest levels and within these institutions of power.
“An official body has recognised the Met Police’s poor practice in my case. I still believe that this poor practice is institutional and that it is important that the police are held to this level of scrutiny consistently, and that this case is not just a one-off.”
For months, concerning accounts of police mistreating and abusing women have appeared in the news more and more regularly. More than half of the Met Police officers found guilty of sexual misconduct over a four-year period kept their jobs. And there have been at least 750 sexual misconduct claims against UK police officers in the last five years.
From the ‘Spy Cops’ scandal to the egregious treatment of Child Q, the new acting head of the Met Police, Sir Stephen House, is right to admit that, when it comes to sexism and racism in the Met, “it’s not just a few bad apples”.
Nancy Collins, Kristina’s solicitor, said: “I am pleased that Kristina’s claim, which concerns police-perpetuated harassment of women and the police disciplinary process addressing such conduct, will be considered further by the High Court. There is a culture of misogyny that has deep roots in the Met; we have seen various cases over recent months of unacceptable treatment of women by Met police officers, and it is the courageous actions of brave women like Kristina that continue to draw wider attention to these pervasive failings by the Met, which must be addressed and resolved with pressing urgency.”
Kristina’s case may not be unique, but it is significant. We hope it will push the Met Police to root out officers who abuse their position to harass women. We need to know that the Met will hold its own officers to account. Otherwise, how can women trust the police?
Read the permission decision here.
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