Met Police commander who wrote drug strategy accused of taking LSD and magic mushrooms

14 February 2022, 16:19

Met Police commander Julian Bennett, who is accused of taking cannabis, LSD and magic mushrooms.
Met Police commander Julian Bennett, who is accused of taking cannabis, LSD and magic mushrooms. Picture: Alamy

By Sophie Barnett

The commander who wrote the Metropolitan Police's drug strategy has been accused of taking cannabis, LSD and magic mushrooms while on holiday in France.

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Julian Bennett, who faces dismissal from the force for gross misconduct, is accused of taking the three drugs between February 2019 and July 2020.

He is also accused of refusing to provide a drug sample on July 21 2020, after being informed there was reasonable cause to suspect that he had used cannabis, a gross misconduct hearing heard on Monday.

Bennett allegedly then claimed he had taken CBD (cannabidiol) for a medical condition with his face as a reason for refusing - an excuse the charge says he "knew to be untrue".

The hearing also heard that a photo sent on WhatsApp showing cannabis on a table had been submitted as evidence.

Bennett has been suspended on full pay since July 2021, pending the investigation by the Metropolitan Police's directorate of professional standards.

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Bennett wrote the MPS drug strategy for 2017-2021 as a commander for territorial policing.

The document, titled Dealing with the impact of drugs on communities, set out plans to raise "awareness of the dangers of drug misuse".

Chairman James Tumbridge said he would be adjourning proceedings on Monday to May 23 later this year.

His decision came after Bennett's lawyers argued that the hearing would not be "fair" because they had not received all the WhatsApp messages, emails and SMSs they wanted, including a year's worth from one of the witnesses.

John Beggs, defending Bennett, said: "Although we are all committed to getting this hearing on the way in the public interest, in the interest of the Metropolitan Police Service and in the interest of Mr Bennett, fairness must trump disposition."

Mr Beggs said the witness may have "cherry picked" the messages that had been disclosed.

Bennett also presided over 74 misconduct hearings, involving 90 officers, between June 2010 and February 2012, according to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request lodged in 2021.

Out of these hearings involving Bennett, 56 officers were dismissed - more than 75%.

A further FOI request in 2020 found that Bennett chaired 69 of the hearings during the time period and that two officers were dismissed for drugs misuse.