London, Sep 9, 2023- Five former Met Police officers have pleaded guilty to sharing racist jokes involving UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Queen Elizabeth II and many others in a WhatsApp group between 2020 and 2022, the police said.
Peter Booth (66), Robert Lewis (62), Anthony Elsom (67), Alan Hall (65) and Trevor Lewton (65) appeared at the Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, where they pleaded guilty to 19 offences under Section 127(1) (a) of the Communications Act 2003.
The officers, who retired between 2001 and 2015, shared offensive messages on the WhatsApp group titled ‘Old Boys Beer Meet’, The Evening Standard reported.
Investigators found that Lewis, who retired from Met in 2015, pleaded guilty to eight counts of sending by public communication grossly offensive racist messages.
In one of the slurs, he shared a photo of Sunak, former Home Secretary Priti Patel and former Health Secretary Sajid Javid under the mocked-up street sign “Browning Street”.
Booth, who admitted to four offences, shared a picture of the late Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip with a golliwog doll and a joke about Pakistani flood victims.
Elsom had put a picture with mocked-up speech bubbles suggesting Princess Catherine had made monkey noises at black children.
Lewton admitted one count, while Hall pleaded guilty to three counts including a slur aimed at the Duchess of Sussex’s race, The Standard reported.
“The racist and discriminatory content of these messages is absolutely appalling and, given the defendants once served as police officers, we recognise that this case may further damage confidence in policing,” Commander James Harman, who leads the Met’s Anti-Corruption and Abuse Command, said in a statement.
“Colleagues across the Met will be disgusted to know that these men once served in the force and will be pleased to see the outcome today.”
All five of them have been released and their sentencing hearing is scheduled for November 6.
A sixth man, Michael Chadwell, 62, appeared at the same court and pleaded not guilty to one count of sending by public communication grossly offensive racist messages. He is expected to stand trial on the same date.
The charges come after a 2022 BBC Newsnight investigation, which sparked a Met Police probe. (Agency)