Six former Met Police officers handed suspended jail sentences after sending racist messages 'about Meghan Markle'

7 December 2023, 17:16 | Updated: 7 December 2023, 18:03

New Scotland Yard, London, Britain, UK
New Scotland Yard, London, Britain, UK. Picture: Alamy

By Kit Heren

Six former Met Police officers have been handed suspended prison sentences after sending racist messages.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

The men, who were all in their sixties, retired between 2001 and 2015, and the messages were sent between 2018 and 2022, meaning none of them were serving in the force at the time of the conversations.

Five of the former officers pleaded guilty to sending by public communication grossly offensive racist messages, while one pleaded not guilty and was later convicted.

They were sentenced to suspended sentences of between six weeks and 14 weeks in jail, as well as unpaid work.

Some of the messages they sent were said to be about Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, while others related to the government's Rwanda policy, and flooding in Pakistan.

Deputy chief magistrate Tan Ikram said the six defendants had harmed trust in the police with the messages.

Read more: Six former Met Police officers charged with sending ‘grossly offensive' racist messages on WhatsApp

Read more: Five former Met Police officers plead guilty to sending racist WhatsApp messages about Meghan Markle

He did not accept an argument that the language was merely "antiquated".

Mr Ikram called the messages "offensive to many good people in this country and not only people who might be directly offended".

The WhatsApp exchange had come to light during a Newsnight investigation.

All of the men worked at in the Diplomatic Protection Group, which is now known as the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command, during their careers.

The six men are:

Peter Booth, 66, of Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire, pleaded guilty to four counts of sending by public communication grossly offensive racist messages.

Booth, who left the Met in 2001, was sentenced to eight weeks' imprisonment, suspended for 12 months and 140 hours unpaid work.

Robert Lewis, 62, of Camberley, Surrey, pleaded guilty to eight counts of sending by public communication grossly offensive racist messages.

Lewis, who quit the force in 2015, was sentenced to 14 weeks' imprisonment, suspended for 12 months and 200 hours of unpaid work.

Anthony Elsom, 67, of Bournemouth, Dorset, pleaded guilty to three counts of sending by public communication grossly offensive racist messages.

Elsom, who retired from the Met in 2021, was sentenced to eight weeks' imprisonment, suspended for 12 months and 140 hours of unpaid work. He retired from the Met in May 2012.

Alan Hall, 65, of Stowmarket, Suffolk, pleaded guilty to three counts of sending by public communication grossly offensive racist messages.

Hall, who was sentenced to eight weeks' imprisonment, suspended for 12 months and 40 hours of unpaid work, retired from the Met in 2015.

Trevor Lewton, 65, of Swansea, pleaded guilty to one count of sending by public communication grossly offensive racist messages.

Lewton, who stepped down in 2009, was given six weeks in prison suspended for 12 months and 65 hours of unpaid work.

Michael Chadwell, 62, of Liss, Hampshire, who quit the Met in 2015, was found guilty of one count of sending by public communication a grossly offensive racist message.

He was sentenced to 10 weeks' imprisonment, suspended for 12 months and 100 hours of unpaid work.

Commander James Harman, who leads the Met’s Anti-Corruption and Abuse Command, said: “The racist and discriminatory content of these messages is absolutely appalling and, given the defendants once served as police officers, we recognise that this case may further damage confidence in policing. Colleagues across the Met will also be disgusted and will be pleased to see the outcome today.

“The messages were brought to our attention by the BBC's Newsnight programme in October 2022, and we made our first arrest soon after we were notified. I hope this case also demonstrates our commitment to take all allegations of criminality and misconduct seriously, investigate those reports thoroughly and, where we have evidence of discrimination and abuse, to bring criminal charges against individuals.

“The messaging in this case took place on WhatsApp – but it could have been on any other platform, or communicated verbally. It is less about the technology – it is the underlying mind-set and the conduct that is so important for us to deal with."

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."

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Parts of the UK face severe rainfall next week, dramatic weather maps suggest

Thunderstorms set to drench Britain with 10 days worth of rain failing in just three hours

Fury erupted after the cow was rammed by a police car

Let us not be hypocrites when we look at the shocking case of the runaway cow

'I didn't expect to die today': Heartbreaking film hopes to keep teenagers out of open water danger

'I didn't expect to die today': Heartbreaking film hopes to keep teenagers out of open water danger

Prince William seen at a procession for the annual Garter Day service

William beams during Order of the Garter procession as royals join King and Queen at Windsor Castle

The parkour runner damaged the UNESCO World Heritage Site building in Italy in a parkour stunt

Shocking footage captures parkour runner damaging UNESCO World Heritage Site in Italy

Defendant Josef Fritzl, center, is escorted to the fourth day of his trial in the provincial courthouse in St. Poelten, Austria, Thursday, March 19, 2009.

Incest monster Josef Fritzl placed under legal guardianship amid worsening dementia

Rod Stewart (pictured on stage in Copenhagen on Sunday June 9) was booed by German fans for supporting Ukraine

Rod Stewart defends show of support for Ukraine after booing at Germany concert

Police officer found guilty of gross misconduct after joyrider killed child actor and aunt in 60mph pursuit

Police officer found guilty of gross misconduct after joyrider killed child actor and aunt in 60mph pursuit

Mugshot of McNaughton, left, and smiling photo or Mr Coshan, right

Catfisher jailed for life after murdering retired teacher he 'lured' to flat using fake profile on gay dating site

Keir Starmer said he was "really shocked" at the footage

'Shocked' Keir Starmer accuses police of 'animal cruelty' after runaway cow rammed five times with squad car

The OceanGate submersible has five people on board

Poignant CGI shows how deep doomed Titan descended on it's ill-fated final journey to the Titanic wreck

Nigel Farage vows to fix 'broken Britain' as he launches Reform UK election 'contract'

Nigel Farage vows to fix 'broken Britain' as he launches Reform UK election 'contract'

Shanika Ocean who plays DC Anna Gilchrist in Silent Witness

Silent Witness actress tells of terror after hooded man tries to get in her car near Tower Bridge

Police were called to Blair Way, Aberavon on Monday

Man, 24, airlifted to hospital with serious injuries after dog attack

Nigel Farage confirmed his ambition to be prime minister by 2029

Nigel Farage reveals ambition to be Prime Minister by 2029 ahead of Reform UK manifesto launch

A missing American tourist has been found dead on a beach on a small Greek island west of Corfu, local media reports

American tourist who went missing on hike found dead on Greek island days after death of Dr Michael Mosley