United Kingdom

PC keeps job despite sharing image of man posting letter through burka

PC Andrew Sexton managed to keep his job despite being found guilty of gross misconduct at a hearing (Picture: SWNS)

A police officer who shared an Islamophobic meme and used homophobic and racist slurs in the office has managed to keep his job. 

PC Andrew Sexton has been let off with a final written warning after he was found guilty of gross misconduct at a five-day hearing last week.

The officer, based in Swindon, admitted to sharing a meme of a man trying to post a letter through a burka, which was captioned ‘should have gone to specsavers’. 

PC Sexton, originally from Australia, was also found guilty of using racist and homophobic slurs after referring to a pair of suspected drug dealers as ‘two black blokes’ and using the word ‘benders’ during a team meeting. He also made an offensive remark about Romanians.

The panel found PC Sexton, who has served with Wiltshire Police since 1997, guilty of gross misconduct and misconduct. The final written warning will stay on his record for the next five years. 

Panel chairman Derek Marshall told the hearing at Wiltshire Police’s headquarters in Devizes: ‘There is no room in the police service for racists or homophobic views or behaviours.’

PC Sexton, formerly of the Australian federal police, had already been placed on a ‘support plan’ in September 2019, requiring him not to use derogatory language in the workplace.

It came after his sergeant told him he may have been causing offence unwittingly. 

The officer said: ‘It was put to me that someone in the office was upset about language that I may have used.

The hearing took place at Wiltshire Police’s HQ in Devizes (Picture: Google Maps)

‘Therefore to prevent further upset I had to be mindful of my language.’

But while under the ‘plan’, further allegations of offensive language were made against the officer, including the ‘black blokes’ comment.

PC Sexton was also said to have made an offensive remark about Romanians.

In paperwork sent to Wiltshire’s professional standards department, he appeared to admit to saying: ‘I am sure Romania has many nice people in it.

‘But I have never met any of them so I associate that country with bulk shoplifters and criminals.’

Meanwhile, during a team meeting in August 2020, he said in a discussion about working alongside another force: ‘Once we get an in, then they will know we are not benders.’

PC Sexton swiftly apologised after the offensive nature of his comments was pointed out, the panel heard.

Quizzing him on the ‘black blokes’ comment, the barrister asked: ‘Is it your evidence you would have said if they were white: “I’m going to go down and speak to the officers who arrested those white guys last night”?’

PC Sexton admitted: ‘No, probably not.’

Mark Ley-Morgan, of Wiltshire Police, later said the comments could result in serious reputational harm for Wiltshire Police.

He said: ‘What has been the key issue so far as policing is concerned all over the world in the last couple of weeks? How police treat ethnic minorities.

‘It seems it is on the news any day. We’ve just had the anniversary [of George Floyd’s murder by a police officer]. It is there all the time.

‘It was there all the time during the time these comments were being made.’

Maria Brannan, representing PC Sexton, presented 11 character references to the panel in support of her client and four official commendations – including a chief constable’s commendation.

Following the guilty verdict, Deputy Chief Constable Paul Mills said: ‘Wiltshire Police is proud to be an inclusive and diverse organisation.

‘It is very important that all our officers and staff feel confident to report anything that they feel is inappropriate, unfair or unlawful.

‘As a Force, we remain committed to robustly and proportionately tackling inappropriate behaviour in the workplace and supporting those who report wrongdoing.

‘I would like to pay testament to the bravery of those who raised concerns in relation to the actions of PC Sexton.’

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at [email protected].

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