Commissioner of Police settles sexual orientation discrimination case

David Cary has secured an impressive victory in his 9 year legal battle against the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) and the Independent Police Complaints Authority (IPCC). The trial of the Commissioner of Police that was due to start today November 1 has been vacated.

Mr Cary is a gay man. He is 54 years old. Mr Cary is the first civilian to bring legal action against the MPS and the IPCC on the grounds that he was discriminated against on the basis of his sexuality. He took civil proceedings under the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007.
The victory will be significant for all complainants of discrimination by the MPS.
The trial of the Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis was due to start at Central London County Court on 1 November. The Commissioner has settled the case. He has apologised and paid costs and damages. Importantly the Commissioner has in the wake of this case set up a unit to deal specifically with complaints of discrimination by both police officers and civilians. The unit’s staff will have specialist training in discrimination. Mr Cary has agreed to meet the new unit.(1) See the order and apology here
The MPS delayed settling for 4 years after the IPCC had settled the case against them in July 2012. The IPCC paid damages and costs. In what may be a unique resolution of proceedings the IPCC submitted to a Court Order that they review the discrimination training they provided.(2) As a result the IPCC introduced a mandatory one day course on discrimination for all its caseworkers, investigators and even their lawyers. See the order here

The Incident

On 27 February 2007 David reported an incident of homophobic hate crime to the MPS. He told the police that he had been riding his bike home when he was subjected to frightening abuse including derogatory references to gay men using the “p -” and the “q -” words. The officers at Acton Police station treated the incident as a mere neighbour dispute not a hate crime, and did not charge the perpetrator(3).

The Complaint

Mr Cary complained about this to the MPS Department of Professional Standards (on 11/12/2007) The MPS dismissed his complaint without even interviewing the police officer concerned or considering the guidelines for investigating complaints of discrimination (on 7/09/2008)(4).

Mr Cary appealed to the IPCC on 6/10/2007. He was successful. A second investigation into his complaint was ordered. This too was inadequate – sustaining the characterisation of the hate crime as a neighbour dispute (on 14/07/2007).

Mr Cary appealed again to the IPCC but this time lost his appeal. The IPCC accepted that police had described the homophobic abuse as “minor words” and a “quibble” but failed to find that this description trivialised the abuse ( on 7/8 /2009).

Over 2 years after the incident Mr Cary’s attempts to use the complaints procedures had failed, so he sued.

The Claim

Mr Cary issued civil proceedings against both the MPS and the IPCC on 13/1/2010

Mr Cary explains: “I was concerned that my complaints had failed. I was horrified by the unbelievable lack of understanding of homophobia and discrimination I had encountered in both the police service and at the IPCC – and what this meant for the policing of homophobic hate crimes. My aim was to force the MPS and the IPCC to get a grip and combat homophobic discrimination”

The MPS and IPCC defended the claim.

On 2/8/2011 the IPCC applied to the Court to strike out David’s claim arguing that there was no breach of the law. The Court disagreed. The IPCC then settled the claim.

But the MPS fought on. The first trial was due to take place on 17/09/2103.
It was adjourned and finally relisted for November 1 2016 (5).

Mr Cary said: “ It took the IPCC over a year. But once defeated they had the good sense to learn and implement the lessons from my claim. In contrast the MPS shamelessly dug their heels in for 9 years. Those delays are a travesty of justice and professionalism. The MPS LGBT website trumpets: “Homophobic & Transphobic abuse is a crime. Report it. Stop it. Don’t tolerate it“. I reported it. They didn’t stop it. They tolerated it. I felt belittled and treated like a second class citizen. I felt they prolonged the case in the hope of wearing me down. Without the best legal representation and campaigning support that I had, they might have managed it.”

Jane Deighton, Mr Cary’s solicitor said: “We welcome the resolution of this case and the new discrimination unit. We urge the MPS to ensure that it secures improvements in the service the MPS provides. There must be an end to a knee jerk reaction into defensive mode when civilians bring police misconduct to the attention of the service.”

David was supported by Andrew Dismore, Labour London Assembly Member for Barnet and Camden who said: ‘There is no place for homophobia in the Met. It is disgraceful it has taken so long though am pleased that at long last David has got justice. “

Notes:

David Cary may be prepared to do interviews, he can be contacted through his solicitors.

David Cary’s solicitor is Jane Deighton of Deighton Pierce Glynn   02074070007   jdeighton@dpglaw.co.uk

His counsel were Helen Law and James Laddie QC of Matrix Chambers.

Andrew Dismore, Labour London Assembly Member for Barnet and Camden. Contact 07957 625 813.

Funding: this case was funded by the Legal Aid Agency. He succeeded so they will not have to bear any of the costs.

Footnotes:

(1) An officer called Howard brought a discrimination case in the employment tribunal against the MPS. Her success triggered an Equality and Human Rights Commission investigation into discrimination complaints by police officers. It is probable this was influential in the setting up of the Discrimination Unit.

(2) The IPCC Review revealed that neither operational staff nor lawyers had received specific training on discrimination or the IPCC’s own guidelines on investigating allegations of discriminatory behaviour. IPCC Review 6/8/2012

(3)The actions of the original police who dealt with the crime report was not part of this claim as they predated the coming into force of the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007

There had been a history of homophobic abuse from a neighbour who had been convicted in 2004 of abh on David Cary

(4)The MPS Misconduct Investigation Guide 2003 requires investigators to consider the Police Complaints Authority Guidance.

(5) The adjournment was a result of the constitution of the Court. Discrimination cases are heard by a judge assisted by an assessor. The assessor appointed had no experience of discrimination on the basis of sexuality. Mr Cary unsuccessfully challenged the appropriateness of this appointment. The Court of Appeal judgement was on 24/6/2014 following which the case was not relisted for trial until November 1.