The Metropolitan Police has been accused of institutional racism after one of the most senior Black officers in the country was left with her career in tatters and sentenced 200 hours of community service for possession of indecent images.
Whilst the court accepted Acting Chief Supt Novlett Robyn Williams, who was commended for her work after the Grenfell disaster, did not view the material, jurors were reported to have not been convinced by Williams’ claim she was unaware of its presence on her phone.
Lawyers have questioned how the case against Williams ever satisfied the Crown Prosecution Service’s public interest test and the National Black Association accused the Met of ‘institutional racism’ because it had ‘breached it’s own policies for innocent possession’. ‘She receives this perverse outcome despite being the only one of 17 recipients of this vile video who did not view it,’ it said.
Stunned & shocked by the sentencing decision for our colleague & friend Supt Robyn Williams. She receives this perverse outcome despite being the only one of 17 recipients of this vile video who did not view it.
Why is she, a black female here? Injustice & Institutional Racism1/2
— NBPA (@NBPAUK) November 26, 2019
Williams had received the video from her sister and co-defendant Jennifer Hodge, via WhatsApp. It was reported that Williams was one of 17 people to be sent the video forwarded from her sister’s partner, Dido Massivi. Prosecutors argued she knew from the thumbnail of the clip sent to her that she had a duty to delete it and report her sister.
Williams told the court the video had escaped her attention because she was at a dance class when it was sent. The jury was also told that there was no suggestion that Williams, Hodge or Massivi had any sexual interest in the video or ‘sinister purpose’.
‘You have had a stellar career in the police force over 30 years,’ Judge Richard Marks QC told her. ‘… It is completely tragic you found yourself in the position you now do.’ The consequences to you of this conviction will undoubtedly be immense, particularly as far as your employment and your career are concerned.”
Hodge was found guilty of distributing an indecent image of a child which, she had explained to the court, she had done in an attempt to expose the abuser. The judge had said Hodge was ‘a thoroughly decent person’ who made a ‘serious error of judgment’. Massivi was convicted of two counts of distributing an indecent photograph of a child and possessing an extreme pornographic image. All three will be placed on the sex offenders’ register.
Barrister Matthew Scott explained that under the law unless Williams could prove that she had ‘no cause to suspect it to be indecent’, or that she had not kept it on her phone ‘for an unreasonable length of time’ the jury had to convict her of the possession charge. ‘Unfortunately for her, she was unable to prove her innocence,’ he wrote. ‘Thus a law designed to catch online paedophiles has instead trapped a pillar of society.’
The barrister challenged how the case ever met the Crown Prosecution’s public interest test. ‘All that money and effort expended to destroy a fundamentally good woman. What a terrible waste. What a terrible error of judgement by the CPS,’ Scott wrote.