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Met Police pays out £1.2m over discrimination claims

Exclusive: Police force accused of a ‘culture of cover-up’ as officers are gagged from speaking out

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Martin Williams
23 August 2022, 4.13pm

The Met has issued ‘confidentiality clauses’ to officers to prevent discrimination claims going public

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Janine Wiedel Photolibrary / Alamy Stock Photo

The Metropolitan Police has paid out more than £1.2m in legal battles against staff who accused the force of discrimination, openDemocracy can reveal.

The figures – which cover the past five years – include more than £800,000 in settlements to staff who claim they have experienced racism, sexism or homophobia while working for the Met.

By settling the cases rather than taking them to an employment tribunal, the police force managed to avoid the allegations being made public. Some officers were told to stay silent about their allegations as part of a settlement deal.

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request by openDemocracy showed that the force also paid out nearly £120,000 to police officers and staff who had their claims of discrimination upheld by an employment tribunal.

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In total, the force has spent £1,287,686 in legal fees and settlement agreements since 2017.

The figures come as the Met prepares to take one of its former senior officers to court, claiming she has broken a settlement agreement that was designed to gag her from speaking about allegations of racism and sexism.

Reports yesterday said that Parm Sandhu has been told to pay £60,000 plus interest for breaking a non-disclosure agreement (NDA).

The Guardian said the NDA banned Sandhu from talking publicly about the discrimination she alleged she suffered during her time in the Met. It also banned her from making “disparaging” or “derogatory” comments about the force or its commissioner.

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Now, openDemocracy has found that dozens of NDAs have been drawn up by the Metropolitan Police in the past five years to stop discrimination claims going public. They relate to 44 separate claims of sexual discrimination, 35 claims of racial discrimination and 11 claims of discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The Liberal Democrat peer, Brian Paddick, who served as the Met’s deputy assistant commissioner from 2003-2007, told openDemocracy: “This is consistent with the Met’s culture of cover-up rather than own-up.”

The Met has repeatedly denied the use of NDAs – referring only to “settlement agreements”. In an email to The Guardian earlier this year, it said: “No officer, when they leave the Met, whether they are dismissed or not, is asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement.”

Earlier this year, the Mayor of London’s office also claimed that NDAs were not used by the Metropolitan Police.

But responding to openDemocracy’s FOI request, the force admitted: “Any of the cases will have confidentiality clauses built in as part of the settlement agreement and disclosure of [individual] settlement amounts would breach any [such] clause.

This is consistent with the Met’s culture of cover-up rather than own-up

Brian Paddick

Employment lawyer Makbool Javaid told The Guardian: “A confidentiality clause is an NDA. The purpose is that you are bound, by whatever is stated in the agreement, not to disclose certain things.”

Figures resulting from our FOI request also revealed that the number of cases settled outside of an employment tribunal far outnumbers claims that were upheld by tribunal.

Only eight cases of racial-, gender- and sexual orientation-based discrimination ended up being upheld by employment tribunals, which means that information about the cases was made public. This compares to 90 cases that were settled confidentially, out of court.

Debbie Summers, from campaign group Sisters Uncut, said: “It comes as no surprise that the Met have spent over a million pounds covering their own tracks and silencing survivors.

“The last few years have made it clear that the Met is a boys’ club that protects its own. But this incompetent boys’ club is breeding a violence so potent even its own officers have had enough.”

She added: “The Met is beyond reform, and we must funnel these wasted funds into community services.”

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