A former detective sergeant at the Metropolitan Police bullied and targeted a junior female Muslim officer (identified as Officer A), a tribunal concluded in a private misconduct hearing.
Detective Sergeant Marc Tuffrey resigned after facing six allegations between November 2018 and September 2019, which the independent, legally qualified chair upheld on all counts.
DS Tuffrey did not apologise to Officer A or, indeed, acknowledge the seriousness of his conduct. The panel was unimpressed with DS Tuffrey’s written apology, “noting its general nature with no apparent understanding or recognition of the impact of his misconduct upon Officer A.”
Nor did DS Tuffrey attend the hearing.
The upheld allegations included that on August 9, 2019, whilst on duty, DS Tuffrey acted in an unwanted sexual manner towards the Muslim officer. In addition, between November 2018 and September 2018, DS Tuffrey made discriminatory remarks, both in writing and verbally, in the presence of team members. And, in private messages to Officer A, sent discriminatory and offensive comments. Tuffrey had, between March and April 2019, acted towards Officer A in a discriminatory manner because of her Islamic beliefs.
DS Tuffrey and a colleague had built a shrine on Officer A’s desk and considered adding a photograph of Shamima Begum. Given that Officer A was a new member of his team, however, no concern was given “to how racially offensive this could be perceived by a Muslim officer”. Adding that this “is capable of being seen as a deliberate attempt to equate Muslims as terrorists.”
“There can be no doubt in this panel’s view that such a plan would have been seen by Officer A to be offensive, racially discriminatory and potentially intimidating.”
However, the panel ruled on this allegation that it had not been motivated by racism or an “intended discriminatory act” but, rather, “an ill judged and poorly conceived attempt to make a joke for the benefit of the team.”
The panel further stated: “Our finding is that his motives were intentional and deliberate with an underlying sexual motive towards Officer A and quite deliberate conduct that he knew would be seen as racist and discriminatory.” Adding that DS Tuffrey abused his position as Officer A’s supervising officer.
The conduct, the panel ruled, went beyond discrimination and harassment, dismissing DS Tuffrey’s explanation of ‘badly judged humour’ as, in their opinion, it “amounts to bullying”.
The text messages sent to Officer A were sexually harassing, debasing, and racist (referring to her as ‘chocolate buttons’). The panel further found that DS Tuffrey made discriminatory remarks about Muslims, LGBT+ communities, other police officers, and women, which they saw as a means to “isolate and intimidate” her.
In the panel’s opinion, DS Tuffrey’s conduct amounted to an abuse of his position as a detective sergeant and team leader. In addition, he demonstrated a “complete failure to treat Officer A with respect.”
The panel concluded, “that there was premeditation, abuse of trust, targeting, repeated and sustained behaviour amounting to bullying and harassment.”
DS Tuffrey’s conduct breached the Equality Act (section 26) which deals with harassment.
Following the panel’s decision, a press release from the Metropolitan Police stated that: “Had he still been a serving officer, DS Tuffrey would have been dismissed without notice.”
Commander Paul Betts of the Directorate of Professional Standards said: “This type of behaviour has absolutely no place within the Met and these offences are a blatant abuse of the trust his position as a police officer and a supervisor afforded Marc Tuffrey. Everyone across the Metropolitan Police Service will be extremely disappointed at these disgraceful actions.
“I regret that DC A was subject to such abhorrent treatment that is so far away from our standards and values.
“The MPS will always investigate such allegations thoroughly, support those who report them and take appropriate action to end such behaviour by our officers or members of police staff.”
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