An openly gay police officer, Richard Hendron, has launched High Court legal action against London’s Metropolitan Police, claiming he was forced out of his job following an “unlawful” arrest by two special constables.
According to the London Evening Standard, the papers were lodged with Britain’s High Court earlier this week. Hendron was arrested in December 2007, by the two special police constables as he left a London pub.
The men had all been attending a Christmas drinks party at the Britannia, Kensington. Hendron says that as he left the pub, he tripped and was grabbed by the two men, who he claims were drunk and shouted to him, “You’re nicked, guv, for drunk and disorderly.”
Hendron also claims that the two men had been making “homophobic” and “ageist” remarks towards him during the evening. After the arrest, he says he was dragged by the specials to a nearby post office while they waited for uniformed officers to arrive.
Hendron was then taken to a police station, where he remained for the night. Although he was released the next day, Hendron claims the Met denied him the chance to put his side of the story or to make a complaint against the specials.
At the time of the incident, Hendron was an inspector with responsibility for special constables in the Kensington and Chelsea district. However, within days of the arrest, he was first moved to what he describes as a “non-job” at the Met’s territorial policing HQ, then on to another within Tower Hamlets.
Hendron claims that he was forced to leave the police force in 2009, due to “constant bullying and harassment from [his] senior management team”.
Since then, the 31-year-old has retrained as a barrister and will be representing himself in the case against the Met.
The Evening Standardreports that the papers lodged with the High Court state, “The claimant was arrested for drunk and disorderly when in fact there was no disorder [and the specials] acted unlawfully and maliciously in exercising their power, which was motivated by personal reasons against the claimant.”
Hendron told the Standard that he was claiming compensation from the Metropolitan Police because after his arrest, his bosses “targeted [him] and let [him] down” while taking “no action against the two specials”.
“It was an off-duty officer with two staff, who were both drunk, tripping in the road and they arrest him for being drunk. Are they motivated by something other than protecting public safety?” Hendron told the paper.
Speaking about the effect the incident had on him, Hendron said, “When I went to Tower Hamlets people didn’t know I had been arrested by two officers who were drunk, they just knew I had been nicked. If you are a regular police officer, you spend eight to 10 hours a day at work – the last thing you want to do after work is arrest someone. These specials, because they don’t do much in terms of policing, get carried away and misuse their powers.”
Homophobia goes underground
Since starting the legal action, Hendron has spoken toPink News about homophobia within Britain’s police.
“Without a doubt, the police have come a long way in the last 10-15 years. But there is still some way to go. It is not publicly acceptable to be homophobic and the police go to great lengths to impress this upon their officers,” he said. “However it does not mean homophobia is not [extant] in the police . . . the difference now is that it is a lot more underground thus harder to identify.”
At one time, Hendron was active within the Gay Police Association (GPA) – which represents lesbian, gay and bisexual police officers and staff within the police service, and works to promote better relations between the police service and the gay community. Of the underground nature of homophobia, Hendron says, “I saw [it] a lot when I was running the [GPA]. The police need to try harder to ensure that the people they recruit have [fewer] prejudices, rather then recruit people and then tell them they can’t be racist, homophobic et al. [sic].”
In confirming that they are aware of Hendron’s allegations, the Met says that they are unable to comment at this stage of the proceedings.