A staff association has slammed the Metropolitan Police for pursuing legal costs from an officer who lost a discrimination case against the force.
Homicide detective Kam Sodhi had moved London’s central employment tribunal last year alleging she had been harassed because of her race and sex, having previously settled a disability discrimination claim against the UK’s largest police force. But the tribunal dismissed her claims.
Scotland Yard, found to be “institutionally racist” and “sexist” in a recent review, decided to seek £20,000 in costs from Sodhi who currently works as a homicide detective.
The Metropolitan Black Police Association (MetBPA), which represents black and Asian officers and staff in the Met, said the pursuit of costs could deter those who seek to speak up against discrimination and wrongdoing.
MetBPA chairman Charles Ehikioya told The Times, “It flies in the face of what the leadership are telling the public — that they want officers to come forward and report what is really going on.”
“This will have a massive deterrent effect on colleagues who want to speak up and those who have been subjected to racist, misogynistic and homophobic transgressions,” Ehikioya said.
Elia Zee, the legal firm which represents Sodhi, said Scotland Yard’s move was “very punitive” although it may not be its intention to deter officers from future claims.
“The Met is showing officers who pursue race, sex or any discrimination claims that they will be punished,” the firm told the newspaper, adding, “it will have a chilling effect”.
Scotland Yard said that being a publicly funded organisation, it is obliged “to use taxpayer money properly and this includes recovering costs where possible and appropriate.”
“The officer has been advised that an application to recover a small proportion of the legal costs incurred in this case has been made,” the force said.