WE ARE A MAGAZINE ABOUT LAW AND JUSTICE | AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO
April 13 2024
WE ARE A MAGAZINE ABOUT LAW AND JUSTICE | AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO
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Former Met PC guilty of gross misconduct in flashing investigation of Wayne Couzens

Former Met PC guilty of gross misconduct in flashing investigation of Wayne Couzens

A police disciplinary panel has found ex-Metropolitan Police Officer Samantha Lee, guilty of gross misconduct. The panel held that Ms Lee had been dishonest about her investigation into accusations that Wayne Couzens had exposed himself to female members of staff at a McDonald’s restaurant in Swanley in Kent on 14 and 27 February 2021. It held that Ms Lee had executed a “lamentably poor and rushed investigation” into these flashing incidents. She has now been barred for life from the police service.

The panel heard that Ms Lee had not only failed to secure relevant CCTV footage after visiting the restaurant on 3 March 2021, but had lied to senior officers when later questioned about her actions. Ms Lee visited the eatery hours before Couzens’ abducted Sarah Everard in South-West London. When questioned about her visit, she said that the CCTV footage had been automatically deleted.

During the hearing, a manager of the McDonald’s restaurant branch claimed that the CCTV footage was shown to Ms. Lee, as well as other evidence like Couzens’ card details and receipts. Darren Snow, the panel’s legal chair, said that Ms Lee demonstrated “a sloppiness to her approach and a fundamental failure in relation to attention to detail.”

Ms Lee denied that her misconduct in any way “would have changed the tragic outcome” of the death of Ms. Everard. She further stated, “I have never lied” and criticised the courts for using her as a “scapegoat”.

In the wake of this and other cases of police misconduct, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) “is calling for the introduction of a national system” which aims to guarantee that police forces will be informed of criminal allegations against officers. The IOPC reckons the Met should “consider developing a system automatically flagging when an officer is under criminal investigation” in future practice.