Newham police officers found not guilty of racism

10:56 30 November 2012

PC Kevin Hughes, 36, from Brentwood, was found not guilty of making racist comments. Picture: PA Wire/Press Association Images

PC Kevin Hughes, 36, from Brentwood, was found not guilty of making racist comments. Picture: PA Wire/Press Association Images

PA Wire/Press Association Images

A Metropolitan Police officer who admitted comparing a black man to a monkey while out on patrol in Newham has been cleared of racially aggravated harassment.

PC Kevin Hughes, 36, of Brentwood, Essex was also found not guilty yesterday (Thurs Nov 29) at Westminster Magistrates’ Court of using threatening words or behaviour to cause alarm and distress,

His colleague, PC David Hair, 42, of Epping, was also cleared of both charges following a three-day trial.

The court heard PC Hughes say he made the comments on February 22 because he saw a black man with “elongated arms” and a “gait” like a monkey while out on patrol with three colleagues in Green Street.

But the officer, of Brentwood, Essex, said it was “upsetting” that anyone would think he was racist.

The man was black but Hughes said he only had a “fleeting glance” at him. But he admitted saying he used the word “chimpanzee” to describe him.

PC Hair, 42, was accused of allegedly telling, on March 13, a female black colleague, PC Julia Dacres, he thought she was going to “rant” about overtime and not do any because she was “going home to cook bananas”.

Senior District Judge Howard Riddle said: “Whatever precisely PC Hughes said, it was unacceptable and offensive.”

He said that “in these circumstances it did not amount to a criminal offence”.

Noting that “context is central”, Mr Riddle pointed out there had been no aggression or threat.

He said: “Freedom of speech is a cherished principle. Freedom of speech includes the freedom to be offensive.

“It is, of course, restrained in a number of ways - employers can require employees to avoid offensive language or lose their jobs. The civil courts can provide redress for harm caused.

“But when the state tells people what they can or cannot say, on pain of criminal sanction, the position is different. Citizens expect strong justification for curtailing freedom of expression. Offensiveness is not enough.”

Latest News Stories

Yesterday, 16:00
Papa John's in East Ham is holding a pizza party in aid of Text Santa (file picture: Steve Parsons/PA)

Do you like pizza? Do you like supporting charity appeals?

Yesterday, 12:00
Jonny and Alistair Brownlee with their London 2012 Olympic medals. Picture: Ian West/PA Images

They’re two of the country’s most famous sporting siblings used to giving it their all to win in one of the most gruelling races around.

Yesterday, 08:00
Caritas Anchor House boss Keith Fernett on the contstruction site of the charity's planned

An international law firm has agreed to help out embattled homelessness charity Caritas Anchor House after it was hit with a £1m VAT bill earlier this year.

Canning Town
Fri, 18:47
London Ambulance Service has been recommended for special measures following a CQC report

A London ambulance chief has downplayed fears that the service isn’t ready for a major terrorist attack following a scathing report by health inspectors yesterday.

London Ambulance Service

Most read news


Section Boys, Big Tipper, Big Narstie, Lady Leshurr, Trapstar, and UFest street team members

We’ve got 10 pairs of tickets to give away to watch some of the country’s best and brightest urban music talent at UFest, London’s official youth festival.

Read more
MAC Makeup

MAC are renowned for their flawless, fabulous make up that is used worldwide by the stars. You too can have the chance to have the perfect makeup to suit your needs with £1,000 to spend on all the glam goodies you like!

Read more

You are never far from an Argos, wherever in the country you may be. They are like a magical cavern where whatever you need they seem to have it out the back behind the counter. So why not put them to the test with this great MyOffers competition to win £1000 to spend in-store.

Read more

Digital Edition

Read the Newham Recorder e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24

Local business directory

Our trusted business finder