A police appeals tribunal has ruled that a senior officer dismissed from the Metropolitan Police over a WhatsApp message was unfairly dismissed and can return to work.
Superintendent Robyn Williams was dismissed in March last year after being convicted for possessing a child abuse video via a WhatsApp group. The Black Police Association had described her prosecution under paedophile laws when she was not a sex offender as an example of institutional racism.
Williams was sent the video – which she had never viewed – by her sister Jennifer Hodge in February 2018 who had been angered by it and wanted the police to take action. Williams claimed she at no stage knew the video was on her phone.
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She had been convicted after the prosecution argued that Williams did not want her sister to get into trouble so had failed to report it. The video had been sent to 17 members of the WhatsApp group one of whom had reported it to the police.
Williams had in February 2021 lost an attempt to overturn her criminal conviction at the appeal court. Hodge had lost her role with the charity Scope over the image, while her partner – who had first distributed the image – was dismissed from his bus driver job.
The tribunal replaced the original verdict with a final written ruling but the finding of gross misconduct remains.
Williams is a holder of the Queen’s Police Medal, has been a campaigner for more women in policing and attracted praise for her work after the 2017 Grenfell fire.
Victor Marshall, professional standards coordinator at the Police Superintendents’ Association, said: “We are pleased that today’s panel agreed that her dismissal was unreasonable in light of the complex circumstances surrounding her conviction and we are delighted she will be able to continue to serve the communities of London.”
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