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Hampshire officers 'shared fake explicit images of royals'

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image captionThe six men were based at the Serious and Organised Crime Unit in Basingstoke

Police officers shared "explicit and highly offensive" fake pornographic images of the royal family, a disciplinary hearing has been told.

The pictures were sent to a WhatsApp group by members of Hampshire's Serious and Organised Crime Unit in Basingstoke, it is alleged.

The unit had a "toxic, abhorrent" attitude towards ethnic minorities, immigrants and women, the panel heard.

Six serving and former officers deny gross misconduct.

Police investigators bugged the unit's offices for 24 days in 2018 after receiving an anonymous complaint, the hearing was previously told.

The officers were recorded making "appalling" homophobic, racist and sexist remarks, the panel heard.

The only black member of the team was referred to using slavery references, the tribunal was told.

Jason Beer QC, prosecuting, said the images were shared shortly after the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

He said one sender, PC Andrew Ferguson, admitted it was "completely inappropriate" while another explicit and "racist" image was sent by PC James Oldfield.

image captionFormer Det Insp Tim Ireson admitted sending "ham-fisted" and "crass" emails

Another officer, retired Det Insp Tim Ireson, told the panel that swearing was in the "fabric" of the police force.

Giving evidence, he said humour at work was common although he was "mindful of the risk of humour becoming bullying".

Mr Ireson, who has previously admitted a charge of failing to supervise the team properly, said comments he made in police emails were "ham-fisted" and "crass" and accepted he should have challenged offensive messages from colleagues.

The six officers - who also include Det Sgt Gregory Willcox, Det Sgt Oliver Lage and former PC Craig Bannerman - have admitted that some of their behaviour amounted to misconduct but was not serious enough to warrant dismissal.

Another police staff member faces a separate gross misconduct hearing, and 10 police officers and staff have already received "management action", the force said.

The hearing continues.

Related Topics

  • Hampshire Constabulary
  • Basingstoke

More on this story

  • Hampshire police unit members were 'homophobic, racist and sexist'