Met officers charged over WhatsApp messages

Two serving Metropolitan Police officers and a former officer have been charged with sending grossly offensive messages on WhatsApp.

They will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 16 March.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said the charges arose from an investigation into the phone records of Wayne Couzens, who murdered Sarah Everard.

The Met said the serving officers had been suspended from duty.

The offences are alleged to have happened between April and August 2019 and involved discriminatory messages, the IOPC said.

In a statement the policing watchdog said: “The IOPC’s investigation began following a referral from the Metropolitan Police Service in April last year and was completed in December when we referred a file of evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

“The CPS has now taken the decision to authorise charges against the officers.”

Rosemary Ainslie, head of the CPS special crime division, said: “Each of the three defendants has been charged with sending grossly offensive messages on a public communications network. The alleged offences took place on a WhatsApp group chat.”

She said the function of CPS was not to decide a person’s guilt but to make fair assessments about whether it was appropriate for a court to consider charges and added that nothing should be published that could jeopardise the defendants’ right to a fair trial.

Typically defendants, including police officers, are identified when they are charged but the CPS said it could not currently confirm the names of the officers for operational reasons.

In a statement the Met said: “We are aware of charges brought against two serving Metropolitan Police officers and one former officer about sending grossly offensive messages on a public communications network.

“They are suspended from duty.”

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