How Disingenuous Comments by the Police Undermine Public Confidence


Photo of Kevin Donoghue, a solicitor, who discusses disingenuous comments by the Metropolitan Police in this blog post.

Kevin Donoghue, solicitor, represents “Maria” in her civil action against the Metropolitan Police.

By Kevin Donoghue, solicitor

Disingenuous (adjective)

(of a person or their behaviour) slightly dishonest, or not speaking the complete truth

Cambridge dictionary

This is a follow-on piece to the three-part blog post about my client “Maria’s” experience with the Metropolitan Police and Detective Chief Inspector James Mason. The previous posts are here:

  1. In part one I explained what DCI Mason did
  2. In part two I described how his Gross Misconduct was handled by the disciplinary Panel
  3. In part three I showed the consequences of the Panel’s decision and why institutional misogyny thrives in the Metropolitan Police.

DCI Mason was found guilty of eight allegations of Gross Misconduct by a Police Misconduct Disciplinary Panel following his serious breach of the police’s Standards of Professional Behaviour in dealings with my client.

(DCI Mason admitted six misconduct allegations before the Hearing. He fought two allegations at the Misconduct Hearing, which were then proven after the Panel heard my client’s evidence.)

Findings of gross misconduct can result in dismissal. But the Misconduct Panel decided that a lesser sanction of a final written warning, effective for three years, was enough.

As a result, DCI Mason is still serving with the Metropolitan Police.

Media Interview with T/DAC Bas Javid

Since the hearing, BBC Radio 4’s Today programme reported on my client’s case and interviewed her anonymously. You can listen to the whole piece here (at 2:32:16) or below:

(Temporary) Deputy Assistant Commissioner Bas Javid was interviewed immediately after my client in the piece.

He is one of the Metropolitan Police’s most senior officers, and a member of the Senior Management Team. (If the surname seems familiar it’s because Sajid, Bas Javid’s brother, is the current Health Secretary.)

T/DAC Javid (the “T” usually stands for Temporary) is the Professional Standards lead for the whole of the Metropolitan Police Service. He, along with his boss Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick and the “Professionalism” board, sets the tone for how the Met upholds Professional Standards and the police’s Code of Ethics.

In the Radio 4 Today interview, T/DAC Javid acted as the public face of the Metropolitan Police in his comments on my client’s case and the wider subject of abuse of authority for sexual gain by its officers.

Misleading Comments by Senior Metropolitan Police Officer

If you listen to the interview, you will hear that Javid clearly knew the circumstances of DCI Mason’s misconduct and how the Met’s disciplinary hearing dealt with it.

Because of this, it is troubling how he sought to present the findings of gross misconduct and final written warning sanction against DCI Mason.

He (wrongly) described the gross misconduct finding and sanction as being made by “an independent and legally qualified chair” (at 2:37 in the recording above, or at 2:34:47 in the BBC Sounds link.):

The officer in question was subject to a gross misconduct investigation and a finding, and that finding was taken by an independent and legally qualified chair, and the officer was given a significant sanction of a final written warning that lasts for three years.

And later (at 3:11 in the recording above, or 2:35:27 in the BBC Sounds link)

“A final written warning, one of three years, is a significant sanction and whilst it’s open to the Panel to dismiss people for anything they have to take it in proportion and that was what the independent and legally qualified chair decided to do.”

(my emphasis in bold)

Why T/DAC Javid’s Comments Were Disingenuous

Javid’s comments were disingenuous because they suggest that responsibility for the decisions to:

  1. make findings of gross misconduct, and despite them,
  2. allow DCI Mason to keep his job

 fell on the “independent and legally qualified chair” not the Misconduct Panel as a whole.

You will see why that matters when you consider who was on the Panel and how it operated.

Differences Between the Hearing Outcome Notices

The Metropolitan Police’s Notice of Outcome of Police Misconduct Hearing on its website explains the facts of DCI Mason’s case, the reasoning for the decision, and the outcome.

But this public Notice is not the same as the one the police receive.

It is different to the official “Notice of Outcome of Police Misconduct Hearing” (on Form 3355B2) which is issued to those involved, including DCI Mason and the Met’s Professional Standards Directorate team.

(I received a copy because I represent “Maria” the victim of proven Gross Misconduct by DCI Mason, in her civil action against the police.)

Among other things, this official Outcome report has more information on the first page which:

  • confirms that all eight misconduct allegations were proven against Mason
  • gives the Panel members’ full details
  • records the Panel’s decision (a Final Written Warning).

The official Notice is even signed by the Panel members.

I expect T/DAC Javid read the signed, official Outcome report, instead of waiting for the redacted, publicly accessible version to be uploaded to the Met’s website.

Both versions give the same factual details, findings, etc. And, importantly, they both state 39 times that the disciplinary decisions were made by a Panel. Neither state that the decisions were made by the Chair.

How the Metropolitan Police Handled DCI Mason’s Police Misconduct Hearing

If you have read my earlier blog posts, you will know that the Commissioner for the Metropolitan Police Service (through the Professional Standards Directorate) convened DCI Mason’s Misconduct Disciplinary Hearing. It appointed a Panel to decide the outcome.

The Panel was made up of three people, the usual number in these hearings. It included a senior officer from the Metropolitan Police. The Panel members were:

  • Christopher McKay (Chair)
  • Detective Superintendent Darren Mercer
  • Fiona Bennett

Mr McKay is a barrister at Cathedral Chambers who works as a Judge, Tribunal Chair and Tribunal Adviser.

Det Supt Darren Mercer keeps a low profile, but, as an Inspector, he received an award for leading “neighbourhood policing teams and local reorganisation at Mitcham and Morden, through a substantial period of change”.

Ms Bennett was the “lay-person” (a non-professional) Panel member.

The Role of the Chair in Police Misconduct Disciplinary Hearings

The Chair’s job is set out in The Police (Conduct) Regulations 2020:

29.—(1) The chair of the panel appointed under regulation 28 must take appropriate action to ensure the efficient and effective bringing of the proceedings and that they are conducted in a timely, fair and transparent manner.

The Chair leads the proceedings but must make decisions with these Regulations in mind.

The Panel’s Role in Findings of Gross Misconduct

Where a Panel is convened, the Regulations state that the Chair must give everyone on the Panel a say when deciding if gross misconduct is proven:

Procedure at misconduct proceedings

(15) The person or persons conducting the misconduct proceedings must review the facts of the case and decide whether the conduct of the officer concerned amounts—

(a)in the case of a misconduct meeting, to misconduct or not, or

(b)in the case of a misconduct hearing, to misconduct, gross misconduct or neither.

(16) The person or persons conducting the misconduct proceedings must not find that the conduct of the officer concerned amounts to misconduct or gross misconduct unless—

(a)they are satisfied on the balance of probabilities that this is the case, or

(b)the officer admits it is the case.

(17) At misconduct proceedings conducted by a panel, any decision must be based on a majority but must not indicate whether it was taken unanimously or by a majority.

(my emphasis in bold)

Proof That the Panel found Gross Misconduct

Both versions of the Notice (the shorter one on the Met’s website and the restricted “Outcome” version) confirm it was the three-person Panel which found DCI Mason guilty of Gross Misconduct, and not just the “independent and legally qualified Chair” (as T/DAC Javid described Mr McKay). The Notice clearly states:

The Panel are in no doubt that his behaviour constituted Gross Misconduct.

(my emphasis)

And, after finding Gross Misconduct, the Panel, not just the Chair, decided the sanction. Again, it followed the 2020 Regulations by making a joint decision:

14) Where the question of disciplinary action is being considered, the person or persons considering it

(a)must have regard to the record of police service of the officer concerned as shown on the officer’s personal record;

(b)may receive evidence from any witness whose evidence would, in their opinion, assist them in determining the question, including evidence of mitigating circumstances disclosed prior to the hearing to

(i)a police force;

(ii)a registered medical practitioner, or

(iii)a staff association;

(c)must give—

(i)the officer;

(ii)if the officer is legally represented, the officer’s relevant lawyer or, if the officer is not legally represented, the officer’s police friend;

(iii)the appropriate authority or, as the case may be, the originating authority or the person appointed to represent such authority in accordance with regulation 8(5), and

(iv)the Director General or the Director General’s relevant lawyer, where the Director General made a decision under regulation 24(1) to present the case,

an opportunity to make oral or written representations before any such question is determined, including on the appropriate level of disciplinary action, and

(d)where representations are received in relation to mitigating circumstances—

(i)must consider whether those circumstances have been mentioned at an earlier stage in the proceedings and, if they have not been so mentioned, whether the officer could reasonably have been expected to so mention them, and

(ii)in the light of their conclusions under paragraph (i), may determine that it is appropriate to place less weight on those circumstances.

(my emphasis)

We know that the Panel made the decision to give DCI Mason a final written warning as a group, rather than just Mr McKay alone. This is because the official Notices referenced “The Panel” rather than “the Chair” when reporting on the decision-making process. The Notices were clear about who was involved in deciding the sanction and clearly stated:

The Panel has concluded that a Final Written Warning for 3 years is the appropriate outcome.

(my emphasis in bold)

The Role of a Metropolitan Police Officer in the Decision to Let a Colleague Keep His Job

As this write-up by a hearing observer notes, the Panel adjourned for two hours (or more) to consider the case in private.

We may never know how it came to its decision to give DCI Mason a Final Written Warning instead of ordering his dismissal. But it is possible (you may think probable) that Detective Superintendent Mercer lobbied for his colleague DCI Mason to keep his job despite damning evidence, which included my client’s testimony, at the two-day hearing.

The Impact of T/DAC Javid’s Disingenuous Comments

It is wrong, and misleading, for T/DAC Javid, or anyone else, to put the gross misconduct findings and final written warning sanction solely on the shoulders of the Chair, Mr McKay.

Both the official (signed) Notice and website version state 39 times that decisions made at the hearing were made by a three-person Panel, which included a member of the Metropolitan Police.

The formal notice, which I expect T/DAC Javid saw, even has signatures from all three Panel members, including the Detective Superintendent.

It beggars belief that Javid would not have noticed that it was a Panel which made the decisions, not just the Chair.

I’ve talked about how the Metropolitan Police use spin when commenting on the news before. They are good at it, but that doesn’t make it right.

T/DAC Javid (and whoever advises him) may think that the public might be reassured thinking that an “independent and legally qualified chair” made the decision, instead of a Panel which included a fellow police officer.

But saying it, when he is easily proven wrong by a quick search on his Force’s own website, undermines public confidence in both:

  • Javid as a senior officer responsible for setting and enforcing Professional Standards
  • the Metropolitan Police Service as an institution.

That’s the last thing either of them need.

This was also a missed opportunity for the Met. Instead of defaulting to disingenuous spin and obfuscation, the Force could have sought to rebuild trust through transparency.

T/DAC Javid could have taken the opportunity to point out how the disciplinary and misconduct system works. He could have explained that one of the Panel members was a senior police officer in the same force as DCI Mason and that, despite this, the Panel still found that Mason was guilty of all eight allegations of misconduct.

Sadly, as I point out here, the Met enables and defends misogynists. Finding ways to protect them is just what it does, even when it comes at the expense of public trust.


Kevin Donoghue represents claimants in sexual abuse compensation claims against the police.