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Ex-Met officers plead guilty over racist WhatsApp jokes about Duchess of Sussex and Rishi Sunak

Robert Lewis, one of six Metropolitan Police officers, leaving Westminster Magistrates’ Court in central London, after pleading guilty to charges of sending grossly offensive racist messages (Lucy North/PA Wire)
Robert Lewis, one of six Metropolitan Police officers, leaving Westminster Magistrates’ Court in central London, after pleading guilty to charges of sending grossly offensive racist messages (Lucy North/PA Wire)

Five ex-Met Police officers have pleaded guilty to sharing racist jokes involving the Duchess of Sussex, Rishi Sunak, and Queen Elizabeth II in an offensive WhatsApp group.

Peter Booth, 66, Robert Lewis, 62, Anthony Elsom, 67, Alan Hall, 65, and Trevor Lewton, 65, are admitted criminal offences over the contents of a messaging group titled “Old Boys Beer Meet”.

Lewis, who worked at the Home Office after retiring from the Met in 2015, pleaded guilty to eight counts of sending racist messages.

He sent slurs aimed at black people, Romanians, the Chinese, and Muslims, and also shared a photo of Rishi Sunak, Priti Patel and Sajid Javid under the mocked-up street sign “Browning Street”.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was alleged among the target of racist jokes among ex-Met Police officers (PA Wire)
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was alleged among the target of racist jokes among ex-Met Police officers (PA Wire)

Elsom, who admitted three charges, posted a picture to WhatsApp with mocked-up speech bubbles suggesting Princess Catherine had made monkey noises at black children.

Booth pleaded guilty to four charges, including a picture of the late Queen and Prince Philip with a golliwog doll and a joke about Pakistani flood victims. Lewton admitted one count, while Hall pleaded guilty to three counts including a slur aimed at the Duchess of Sussex’s race.

A sixth former Met officer, Michael Chadwell, 62, denied a similar charge against him. He is now expected to stand trial on November 6.

Anthony Elsom, one of six Metropolitan Police officers, leaving Westminster Magistrates’ Court in central London, after pleading guilty to charges of sending grossly offensive racist messages (Lucy North/PA Wire)
Anthony Elsom, one of six Metropolitan Police officers, leaving Westminster Magistrates’ Court in central London, after pleading guilty to charges of sending grossly offensive racist messages (Lucy North/PA Wire)

The charges follow a BBC Newsnight investigation which aired in October last year, sparking a Met Police probe.

Scotland Yard said all the officers, who left the force between 2001 and 2015, had once been part of the Diplomatic Protection Group, which is tasked with guarding high-profile individuals.

Commander James Harman, who leads the Met’s Anti-Corruption and Abuse Command, said: “As soon as we were made aware of these allegations we acted to launch an investigation. I am pleased that following the determined work of officers we have been able to secure these charges.

“We are working relentlessly to rebuild the trust of the public which has understandably been dented by a number of high profile incidents and investigations in recent years which have involved officers or former officers.

“The honest majority of Met officers are fully behind this work. They are tired of being let down by a minority in policing and they are aware of the damage poor behaviour can do to our relationship with the communities we serve.”

Trevor Lewton, one of six Metropolitan Police officers, leaving Westminster Magistrates’ Court in central London, after pleading guilty to charges of sending grossly offensive racist messages. (Lucy North/PA Wire)
Trevor Lewton, one of six Metropolitan Police officers, leaving Westminster Magistrates’ Court in central London, after pleading guilty to charges of sending grossly offensive racist messages. (Lucy North/PA Wire)

All the charges relate to messages sent between September 2020 and September 2022.

Lewis, of Sandringham Way in Frimley, Surrey, Elsom, from Bournemouth in Dorset, Booth, of Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire, Hall, of Stowmarket, Suffolk, Chadwell, of Liss, Hampshire and Lewton, from Swansea, stood beside each other in the dock at Westminster magistrates court on Thursday.

They were asked in turn to stand as their WhatsApp messages were read back to them by the court legal advisor, before they entered their pleas.

Nick Cotter, representing some of the defendants, asked for a swift sentencing hearing, and told the court Lewton is “struggling with cancer.

“None of the officers are serving, some are long-time retired”, he said.

However District Judge Nina Tempia said sentencing would have to wait until after Chadwell’s trial.

Mr Cotter also told the court he will request for some of the defendants to be sentenced via videolink.

“Some of the gentlemen suffer PTSD relating to their time in service, particularly Mr Booth”, he said.

“He struggled to come into London, he was heavily involved in bombings, including particularly in Soho.

“In the event the Crown agrees the matter falls within the lower bracket of the guidelines, it strikes me only a fine would be available.”

All six defendants were released by the judge until the sentencing hearing on November 6.

The court heard Lewis has also admitted possessing two police-issue ASP batons, which were found at his home during his arrest. He awaits sentencing on those charges.