Met pays out to black brothers wrongfully searched and handcuffed outside London home in 2020 – Screen Shot
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Met pays out to black brothers wrongfully searched and handcuffed outside London home in 2020

The Metropolitan police has settled a complaint by two black brothers who had been stopped, searched, and handcuffed outside their family home in Chingford, east London, on 13 April 2020.

The two victims, Nicholas Peart, 24, and Leon Peart, 20, have been described as Christians who regularly attend church, have never smoked tobacco, let alone done any drugs. “We go to church, we follow the law,” Nicholas told The Guardian. “The only reason [for the arrests] I can assume is race.” The Met has obviously denied this claim.

The incident took place on Leon’s 18th birthday, when strict lockdown restrictions still applied to the whole of the UK due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time, both of them worked in a supermarket, which meant that they were classified as essential workers and were allowed to leave their house to go to work. Their mum, Jacqui, an NHS employee, also classed as an essential worker.

Nicholas explained that he was sitting in his car, waiting for his brother and mother outside of their house. The three of them were planning on getting some petrol to fill up the vehicle’s tank before driving it to work the next day.

According to documents from the police, the violent crimes taskforce said they were initially investigating why Nicholas was out of the house. One officer even claimed to have seen items linked to drugs. No fine was issued, but Nicholas was rapidly handcuffed and a search began.

When Leon finally came out of their home, he noticed that his brother was in handcuffs and ran back in to get their mother. More documents from the Met showed that the police believed this was a possible drug deal in progress between the two men.

“Drug paraphernalia was seen inside the vehicle and as [the] subject [was] being spoken to, an unknown male looked to be approaching the subject’s vehicle and ran [out of] sight of police. Believe to be a possible drug deal,” the report read.

One officer explained that Leon was handcuffed because he was “bigger than me and clearly much stronger,” adding: “I was aware that gang nominal[s] and drug dealers regularly carry weapons and have been assaulted doing similar style stops on numerous occasions.”

“It was embarrassing to put me in handcuffs in front of my neighbours. Beforehand, I had a good view of the police. I always said hi to the local officer. This has diminished my view of the police,” Nicholas explained after recounting the event.

Meanwhile, Leon said that, instead of celebrating his birthday, he was left in tears. Speaking about how officers handcuffed him at the time, he revealed: “They twisted them and the metal digs into your hands. I think it was racist and because of my skin colour. There’s no change in the Met. Words are cheap, once we see actions we can start to believe their stories.”

Jacqui also shared how the unfair situation made her feel: “It was distressing for me as a mother. I thought my son was being attacked in the front garden. I came out of the house and saw a police officer grabbing my son.”

What’s worse is that, when the family complained, the system was not interested in finding the truth. “They were trying to cover their own backs,” the older brother added. One officer involved in the arrest, Paul Hefford, was also a key player in a hate message group, which led him to be fired from in July 2022.

As found during a Met disciplinary panel, the private WhatsApp group contained countless racist and discriminatory messages—including some anti-black, anti-Muslim, and some abusing the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle. Hefford was the second-most frequent poster to the chat group containing police officers.

And it seems the Pearts weren’t the only victims. According to The Guardian, the first few months of lockdown saw the Met stop and search more than a quarter of all black 15 to 24-year-olds in London, with 80 per cent found to have nothing on them.

Research recently published by the Children’s Commissioner for England also revealed that, between 2018 and 2020, officers in the Met police service conducted intrusive searches on 650 young people aged between ten and 17, with a disproportionate amount being black boys.

After PC Hefford was sacked, alongside PC Sukhdev Jeer, speaking about the Pearts’ arrest, Met deputy assistant commissioner Bas Javid explained that “following this, we took the decision to settle the claim without admission of liability. Based on the accounts of the two other officers, we did not accept [that] the men were stopped and searched because of the colour of their skin.”

Solicitor Carolynn Gallwey, who represented the brothers, said: “The bigger problem here is that their experience is at least in part the result of a toxic culture within the Met which sees black Londoners disproportionately stopped and searched by police on the street every day. This is what the commissioner should be tackling.”

Next week, the Met will have to defend itself in court once more, against two other brothers, Liam and Dijon Joseph, who say discrimination played a part in their 2018 arrest for bumping fists on a street in south London.

Police officers stripped, posed and photographed a suicide victim’s body, posting the images online

A harrowing report by BBC Northern Ireland (NI) has brought to light the details of allegations that two police officers from the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) had manipulated a suicide victim’s body, photographing them and later sharing the images and videos online. Though the incident itself is said to have occurred in 2017, it has only now found itself in the spotlight with full disclosure.

The family of the victim in question spoke to BBC NI Spotlight on the horrific discovery of their loved one’s abuse by the two officers who were called to the scene when the body was found in 2017. The father of the deceased male told the news outlet that he was first informed of the allegations 18 months after the death of his son—and was told to keep quiet on the details.

“They informed me that two police officers had been questioned regarding my son and photographs that might have been taken of my son,” he told BBC NI Spotlight. The family were told that “it was a very serious affair and we weren’t to discuss it.” Details, like the fact that the victim’s genitals had been exposed in the photographs, were “drip-fed” to the family, as per the BBC’s report.

The sister of the deceased told the publication that the two police officers had also reportedly moved her brother’s body around the room (in which he was found) into various positions and poses for pictures and videos. The family were also informed that additional edits/stickers were added to the imagery such as “an exclamation bubble coming out of my brother’s mouth making fun of the way that he was.”

The Photoshopped speech bubbles were part of the images that were shared on social media, among the pictures of his exposed genitalia, and involved what the sister believed was the word “taig”—a derogatory term for Catholics. She told BBC NI Spotlight that she could not fathom how or why anyone would be as heartless to mock a victim of suicide.

Unsurprisingly, the father stated that he is “physically sick to this day” over the accusations against the officers—haunted by the thought that these actions were happening while he was in the house. “Those police officers were in the house while I was there—asked me to leave the room—and I done everything they asked me to at the time,” he continued. “And all that keeps coming back to me is why did I leave the room, because that must have been when they done it, when they took the photographs.”

This particular case surfaced as part of a “much broader and more complex case encompassing investigations into 11 separate and related incidents” of police misconduct “spanning several years,” said NI’s Police Ombudsman Marie Anderson. One of the officers being questioned has been suspended during the length of the investigation on full pay, as per BBC NI Spotlight. The family’s lawyer, Pádraig Ó Muirigh, has also queried this decision.

In an inquiry that has lasted an “unacceptable” five years, “I think the family and the wider public has a right to know why someone has been suspended so long on full pay,” Ó Muirigh added. This case seems just the latest in a long line of examples of serious and gross misconduct by police officers across the UK. Not only does the case of Sarah Everard obviously come to mind but the family’s lawyer cited the very similar incident of murdered sisters Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman in June 2021—on discovery of their bodies, Met Police took images of the women and shared them on WhatsApp groups.

One such message of the sisters read: “Unfortunately I’m sat next to two dead birds with stab wounds.” The constables in question have each been jailed for 33 months. The suicide victim’s sister has since told the BBC that following the handling of her brother’s case, she had lost faith in the PSNI going forward. “I couldn’t even lift the phone and dial 999 now if I was in an emergency. I wouldn’t want them near me or my family because they can’t be trusted.”