Met officers sacked for gross misconduct over Harvey Price WhatsApp messages
Two Metropolitan Police officers have been sacked over “discriminatory and offensive” texts they sent to colleagues, including some which made fun of Katie Price’s disabled son Harvey.
The two serving officers and six former colleagues were found guilty of gross misconduct over racist, homophobic and sexist messages they shared between May 2016 and June 2018 in a WhatsApp group called “Secret Squirrel Shit”.
On Friday, Pc Glynn Rees and Pc Dave Selway, who was named by the force after he had been granted anonymity throughout as Officer B, were dismissed by the disciplinary panel at Palestra House in Southwark, central London, following a six-day hearing.
The pair, along with former sergeant Luke Thomas, former acting sergeant Luke Allen and former constables Kelsey Buchan, Lee South, Darren Jenner, and Carlo Francisco, were also barred for life from the police service.
Mr Thomas, Mr Allen, Ms Buchan, Mr South and Mr Jenner resigned from the Met after the messages were unearthed, while Mr Francisco was dismissed in July 2022 for “an unrelated matter” involving “discreditable conduct”, according to the force.
Their texts included derogatory comments about 20-year-old Mr Price, who suffers from Prader–Willi syndrome and autism, and about a junior female officer, known in the hearings as Officer A.
The force apologised to those who had been the subject of the messages.
Legal chair Christopher McKay said their messages had caused “significant harm” to the “already tarnished reputation of the Metropolitan Police Service” (MPS) and had upset Katie and Harvey Price.
He said: “Racist, sexist, homophobic and transphobic attitudes revealed in the posts and comments have undermined the reputation of the Metropolitan Police Service as a fair and impartial body.
“Harm has been caused to Harvey Price and his mother, who have learned of the posts recently, and this has resulted in a loss of confidence in the MPS by Katie Price.
“Officer A is now aware of the insulting way in which she was referred to by members of the group. She must have been upset.”
The panel found the most senior-ranking officer in the group, Mr Thomas, was “one of the most active participants” in the WhatsApp group.
He mocked Mr Price’s weight in some messages, called Officer A “f****** ugly”, and joked that he should name his dog “Auschwitz”, “Adolf” or “Fred” or “Ian” after “my two favourite child sex killers”.
Mr McKay said that Mr Thomas “should have set the tone” for the group but instead “became one of the worst offenders”.
“He is the most blameworthy of all the officers,” he said.
Mr Jenner, who Mr McKay said is “believed to be living abroad and has not participated in any way in these proceedings”, contributed to the conversation about naming a dog after concentration camps.
Meanwhile, Mr Rees described an image of Mr Price riding a child’s train as “genius”, which the panel found to be “obviously sarcastic” and “making fun of him behaving in a childlike manner because of his disability”.
An edited photograph of Mr Price was sent by Mr Selway, with the caption: “You’ve heard of elf on a shelf, now get ready for Harvey Price eating Uncle Ben’s basmati rice after trying to read three blind mice on spice, saying ‘hello you c***.”
Mr Allen, who said he felt “ashamed” by his comments, had posted a photograph of himself in the chat attempting to imitate Mr Price, with the caption: “Hello you c***”.
A colleague was referred to as a “f****** rude little c***” with a “mongy fanclub” in a message sent by Ms Buchan, who also insulted Officer A’s appearance, as did Mr Francisco.
Mr South, who was “one of the more active members” of the chat, made a reference to “cotton picking” when talking about a black inspector, and said: “If any of this group got out my job would be f***** long ago.”
Mr McKay said that many of the officers had been considered good at their jobs, including Mr Thomas who had “14 commendations he had received throughout his career”.
However, he added: “Personal mitigation is of little significance when gross misconduct has been established against a serving police officer.”
Mr McKay said the fact the offending messages were shared in a “private” WhatsApp group also “provides no defence”.
Speaking after the hearing, Met Commander Jon Savell said: “I was repulsed and ashamed to read the deeply offensive messages sent by these officers and I utterly condemn their behaviour. I am deeply sorry to those who have been the subject of such awful, disgusting messages.
“We are under no illusion that public trust and confidence in us depends on us re-establishing our integrity and professionalism.
“This is another painful day for us. We know there are more uncomfortable days to come as we turn over the stones and uncover others who corrupt our integrity.”
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said he was “disgusted” by the messages.
He told the PA news agency earlier: “I’m as disgusted as other Londoners are by the fact that certain police officers, any member of society, in fact, should behave in this way, further evidence of institutional racism, institutional social institutional homophobia.
“There’s no place in our police service for anybody who is racist, sexist, homophobic, misogynistic.
“We want our police service to be anti-racist, anti-misogynistic and anti-homophobic.”