One of the UK’s most senior black female police officers has been sacked after her conviction for possessing a video clip of child abuse.
Supt Robyn Williams was ruled by Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Helen Ball to have committed gross misconduct.
At a fast-track misconduct hearing, Ms Ball said Williams’s failure to report the matter was “very grave”.
She pointed to Williams’s “lack of truthfulness and judgement”.
The superintendent was found guilty in November of having footage of child sexual abuse on her phone. At her trial, Williams said she had not viewed the 54-second video, which was sent by her sister, and did not know it was on her phone.
But Ms Ball said that Williams’s conduct amounted to “discreditable behaviour” likely to undermine public confidence and was not a “trivial lapse”.
The assistant commissioner said her failure to report the matter could have caused significant further harm to the child.
She said it was “entirely unacceptable” for police officers responsible for enforcing the law to break it themselves.
Ms Ball added that racial bias had played “no part” in her decision, although the Metropolitan Black Police Association argues Williams has been unfairly targeted because she is black and accuses the force of “institutional racism”.
In a statement, the association said the decision to sack Williams was “outrageous”.
“There are guidelines that allow for discretion, however Robyn was not afforded this privilege from start to finish of the process,” it added.
“Despite the unprecedented and overwhelming expressions of support from colleagues, communities of London and beyond, calling for Robyn to continue to serve London, their voices were ignored.”
Williams’s friends and supporters, who were following the hearing on monitors in a separate room, gasped as the decision was read out. One of them started applauding sarcastically.
During Williams’s trial, Judge Richard Marks QC said she had made a “grave error of judgement” in failing to report the video after it was sent to her.
The superintendent, who has been a police officer for 36 years, was ordered to do unpaid work in the community and register as a sex offender, even though the court accepted there was no sexual element to her offending.
Gerard Boyle QC, for Williams, told the special misconduct hearing that she had spent her entire police career since the age of 18 acting on behalf of victims of crime and abuse and that she was appalled by such abuse imagery.
He added that she was accused of one allegation of one breach of one paragraph of professional standards behaviour.
Mr Boyle told the hearing his client “poses no risk to anyone, let alone children or young people”.
Williams has lodged an appeal against her conviction but judges have not yet decided whether to grant approval for the case to be heard.