Thursday 6 October 2022 05:34 PM Man, in his 60s, is arrested over racist WhatsApp group chat involving former ... trends now
A man has been arrested after a documentary claimed a former Metropolitan Police officer set up a 'vile and deplorable' WhatsApp group - which included Wayne Couzens - that became flooded with racist memes and messages, including about Meghan Markle and Prince Harry.
Rob Lewis, the creator of the group, had been put on leave from his UK Border Force job over the 'abhorrent' texts sent by him and others, with some alleged to have featured repeated use of the word 'P*ki'. There is no suggestion that he was the man arrested on Thursday.
According to the BBC Newsnight probe, there were also 'vile' messages about the Government's policy to deport migrants to Rwanda for processing, slurs about black MPs and abuse towards the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
Meanwhile there was at least one joke about the recent devastating floods in Pakistan, where 1,700 have died and millions were displaced.
Several of the members of the WhatsApp group used to work for the Diplomatic Protection Group (DPG), the armed unit that guards Parliament and embassies.
Wayne Couzens also worked for the DPG until he abducted, raped and murdered Sarah Everard. Just two weeks ago, two serving Met officers were convicted of sending grossly offensive misogynistic and racist messages in a WhatsApp group with Couzens.
This afternoon the Met revealed: 'Shortly after 12am today, a man aged in his 60s was arrested on suspicion of offences under the Communications Act and misconduct in a public office. He remains in custody at a south London police station.'
Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley had said earlier: 'My plan for reform in the Met is already under way. I will be ruthless in rooting out those corrupting officers and staff, including racists and misogynists, from our organisation.
'I have taken over as the leader of an organisation that has been far too weak in taking on those who undermine the honest and dedicated majority who determinedly serve the public.
'That will change and I will continue to seek out those, from both within and outside the Met, with that constructive anger who can help us reform.'
The identity of the arrested man has not been revealed.
The BBC's Newsnight show reported Rob Lewis had created a group chat with other former Met officers. The programme said it was shown messages from the group by Dave Eden, another former police officer.
He said: 'There are references to black politicians, which are extremely unpleasant,' he told the BBC.
He added: 'The entire undertone is one of racism and misogyny.
'This group tells me that the culture of the Metropolitan Police hasn't changed. And in fairness, it's not just this group, it's other groups. It's what I'm hearing out of the mouths of ex-colleagues. And what I'm witnessing all the time.'
Rob Lewis has been suspended from his UK Border Force job at the Home Office over racist messages shared with police from the same unit as PC Wayne Couzens
Newsnight said it was shown messages from the group by Dave Eden, another former police officer.
Met police officers will be given smartphones in a bid to crack down on misconduct and improve access to technology under the first initiative of new commissioner Sir Mark Rowley
The Mayor of London described the message in the group as 'abhorrent' and said those involved should be held to account - and used the messages to justify forcing Dame Cressida Dick out of her job.
'What Londoners will see is a difference in response from this police commissioner, who's not in denial and isn't being defensive, versus the previous one. That's why I lost confidence in her.'
He said: 'The Met has previously been far too weak and slow to act when this kind of unacceptable behaviour has been exposed. The new Commissioner, Sir Mark Rowley, has assured me that he's determined to take a different approach. Any officers found to be responsible for sexism, racism, misogyny, homophobia, bullying or harassment do not deserve to wear the Met uniform and must be quickly rooted out.
'Baroness Casey continues to lead an independent review into the Met's culture and standards, which will be vital in helping us to deliver the widescale police reform that's clearly required.
'Sir Mark Rowley has committed to winning back the trust of Londoners in the police and I'm confident he understands the scale and urgency of the task at hand. I want to assure Londoners that I will continue to hold the Met to account to ensure we see the step change in culture and performance that's urgently needed, and which Londoners deserve.'
Another serving officer, told the BBC: 'I do not think these behaviours and ideologies can be removed from the Met.
'Individuals need to be held accountable and made an example of to demonstrate to colleagues that these behaviours and ideologies have no place in the Met. I fail to see any substantial improvement within the organisation.'
The BBC also claims a serving Met officer has shared a racist image that involves a picture of black babies.
The Home Office said it had suspended a member of staff, believed to be Lewis, who has not commented.
'We expect the highest standards of our staff and have a zero tolerance approach to anyone displaying racist, homophobic, misogynist or discriminatory behaviour,' the statement said.
'Where we are made aware of such behaviour we will not hesitate to take decisive action.'
Commander Jon Savell, who is responsible for the Metropolitan Police's professional standards, said the messages shared were 'abhorrent'.
'These messages are abhorrent and have absolutely no place in policing or society,' he said.
'Their behaviour erodes the confidence that the public has in the police - a confidence that the vast majority of us in the Met works tirelessly day-in, day-out to maintain and improve.
'Racism, misogyny, homophobia or any other discriminatory behaviour has no place in the Met.
'Where such behaviour is identified it will be dealt with robustly, but we will also be actively seeking out those whose actions bring shame to us.
'We contacted Mr Eden's representatives when these messages first emerged in April but they declined to share further details. We urge them to reconsider so we can take action.
'In the meantime we appeal to anyone who has information about such behaviour to make contact.'
Deniz Jaffer (left) and Jamie Lewis (right) were police constables assigned to guard the murder scene of Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry and shared images on Whatsapp while on duty
Bibaa Henry, 46, and Nicole Smallman, 27, were stabbed to death at a park in London in 2020
In 2014 the notorious investigation was sanctioned by Dame Cressida Dick, then a high-ranking officer at Scotland Yard.
The disastrous inquiry into spurious VIP child sex abuse allegations saw innocent men, including the late Lord Brittan and former Tory MP Harvey Proctor, pursued by the force.
Several men died, with reputations tarnished, before the allegations were disproved.
NICOLE SMALLMAN AND BIBAA HENRY MURDERS
In June 2020 two officers were tasked with guarding a crime scene where sisters Nicole Smallman, 27, and Bibaa Henry, 46, had been stabbed to death.
Officers Deniz Jaffer, 47, and Jamie Lewis, 33, took photos at the scene in Wembley, then shared them in two WhatsApp groups. They were each jailed for two years and nine months last December.
SARAH EVERARD MURDER
In March last year, 33-year-old marketing executive Sarah Everard was abducted, raped and murdered by serving officer Wayne Couzens. The force's officers were accused of 'manhandling' women at a Clapham Common vigil staged ten days after her disappearance.
DANIEL MORGAN INQUIRY
In June last year a report into the unsolved 1987 murder of private investigator Daniel Morgan accused the Metropolitan Police of 'institutional corruption'.
STEPHEN PORT INVESTIGATION
An inquest jury ruled in December that failures by Yard detectives contributed to the deaths of a serial killer's three final victims. Stephen Port killed four men in their 20s by giving