It is just under a year now on 24 July 2010, that I found out on a Saturday afternoon that my employer the Metropolitan Police Service had leaked my private and confidential information to The Sun newspaper.
The Sun was going to run a negative story about me, making public my sexuality as a gay person and mental illness with depression, which were not in the public interest.
The Sun on behalf of the Metropolitan Police was trying to discredit me in My Fight for Justice against the Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson, as it was racism and homophobia at the Met which made me seriously unwell.
Not only did it hurt me that The Sun had been given my private data and its reporter Anthony France going to publish a detrimental article about me for the Met police, the force tried to say it didn’t leak my private information.
The leak to The Sun and me finding out on a Saturday afternoon were calculated, knowing that there was not much I could do on a weekend, to prevent publication at the beginning of the next week.
Distraught that my sexuality and mental illness where going to be made public, my partner and I struggled to do all we could to prevent my private data which was given to The Sun by the Met getting out into the public domain.
I had emergency contact with the Press Complaints Commission and even begged The Sun in a statement from me via the PCC, not to disclose my private data as it was my right to tell others of my sexuality and mental illness caused by racism and homophobia, not theirs.
The Sun did not listen to my concerns and the week after, proceeded with the intention of publishing my private details. I had to send several defamation and libel letters to the Editor Dominic Mohan and the reporter Anthony France threatening legal action.
I wasn’t bothered about The Sun printing lies about me with regards to my claims of racism and homophobia against the Metropolitan Police, as a Liverpudlian, Gay, and Black person I expected nothing better. ‘Outing’ me though publicly was not its right, that was mine.
The Police Federation of England and Wales who are supporting my discrimination challenge against the Commissioner told The Sun that if it printed lies about me or outed me it would harm their relationship. The Sun knew only what the MPS wanted it to know, and none of it was the truth or factual. I had learned what the paper was told, by the Met.
The Sun I was informed held several editorial meetings about whether to publish its negative story about me. However, the damage by the Metropolitan Police and this tabloid was already done, besides the mental stress I was placed under in addition to my illness.
I no longer had control of my private data, who it had been passed to and when it might appear in the press. Not only did I question my life with what the Met had done to me on this weekend – notwithstanding what I had endured at work and during my subsequent sickness, I was now forced to ‘out’ myself on my terms in a sympathetic magazine.
I should never have gone through what I did, just because I decided to stand-up to bullies. The Met didn’t even make it a fair fight, that’s what the courts are for. It just handed over my personal and medical data, trying to prevent me from speaking about the racist and homophobia incidents and practices in the force.
With the recent revelations of hacking by The Sun’s sister newspaper, News of the World and the issue of payments to Police Officers for information, my claim of the leak from the Met and its perverse relationship with News International is further strengthened.
What was the MPS given in return for information about me?
On 27 July 2010, my partner made an official complaint to the Metropolitan Police as the leak about me had involved him, and the Commissioner isn’t allowed to cause harm to ‘members of the public’. He could get away with it to me, as an employee.
As a Police Officer, the law says I couldn’t make a complaint about what had gone on between the Metropolitan Police, The Sun and me to the ‘Independent’ Police Complaints Commission, so my partner had to do it.
He raised his concerns and they fobbed him off, even though these were serious allegations against the police. It is illegal for police officers to give information like this to the press, for reward or not. The IPCC didn’t want to know though.
The IPCC told my partner that the Met were okay at investigating itself – we couldn’t believe it. The people who are meant to hold the police to account couldn’t be bothered. Shame on them.
On 11 November 2010, the IPCC wrote to my partner and told him that the Met had carried out a proper investigation into itself and the leaking of my information to The Sun. It stated my partner’s appeal to the IPCC saying that the Met couldn’t and didn’t investigate itself properly, was not being upheld.
The IPCC said the Commission’s decision was final. Disgraceful is a polite word.
The MPS had leaked my personal information to News International, my partner complained to the ‘Independent’ Police Complaints Commission and it said it was satisfied that not only was the Met going to carry out its investigation into the leak, but that its conclusion that there was no leak from the force was sound.
A few months ago, I read another article by Anthony France about an Asian female officer who became ill at work through racism like me and was forced to resign by the Met, before she was sacked for speaking out about it.
Anthony France in his article on her, in which he published the officer’s photograph and her private data like mine, bragged that his information came from ‘inside’ the police and this was an ‘EXCLUSIVE’ article.
What part of this doesn’t the IPCC understand?
Anthony France had done exactly the same to me, as he did to this officer and the IPCC agreed there was no case to answer.
Yesterday with the hacking of phones scandal, it was revealed that Police Officers at the Met not only where receiving payments from News International for information, but that this was going on as late as last year especially with The Sun newspaper.
So, a complaint is made to the IPCC stating that The Sun had hold of information on me that only the Met could have known (some of it was its forthcoming defence for an employment tribunal with me), and only this year in April information like that of mine leaked is given to The Sun about a similar officer – and there is no case to answer?
Having been a Police Officer since 2001, I’ve always believed there was nothing ‘Independent’ about the Police Complaints Commission.
I read today on the IPCC’s website (www.ipcc.gov.uk) that its London Commissioner is to oversee the ‘revelation’ that police officers at the Met have been paid for information, by News International. The name of the Press Officer who published the statement by the IPCC played on my mind, then it ‘clicked’.
I have have nothing against the Press Officer in question, but this example shows just how ‘independent’ the IPCC is with police forces. Not so long ago, this same Press Officer was working at Greater Manchester Police at the same time as me when I worked as a Detective there – so, some independence?
I am not questioning the integrity of the individual, but her job at GMP was to protect its reputation and now she does the same for the IPCC – to me this doesn’t seem very independent, never mind former police officers working for the organisation.
If there is no impartiality in the police complaints system or proper oversight of forces, how can challenges be made and fair? If there’s no true independence, what’s the point?
If the British National Party had been racist to me, I wouldn’t expect the Equality and Human Rights Commission to appoint the BNP to investigate itself – I know what the result would be?
I’m hoping to publish the full IPCC Assessment of Investigation Appeal and allow the public to make up its own mind on the passing of private data from the MPS to News International. In it, the IPCC say everything apart from how wonderful The Sun and the Metropolitan Police are.
The IPCC uses words like ‘convinced’ to my partner, when evidence is provided, it says it is ‘satisfied’ that a proportionate investigation has been carried out and most shockingly it says… because Anthony France the News International journalist told the Metropolitan Police Investigating Officer that the leak did not come from the ‘Metropolitan Police’ – this means there was no leak. You couldn’t make it up.
How very wrong the IPCC and others have been proved this week with News International and the News of the World. Even though evidence shows the leaking of information from the Met to News International, the IPCC do not want to know.
The reporter Anthony France himself says his information is from within the police, an ‘insider’. The relationship between the IPCC and the police is flawed.
For the past year I have been fighting to obtain that information which the Met holds about me under the Data Protection Act. I have just received some of that information including an internal Metropolitan Police email which includes a member of the Commissioner’s Management Board (Assistant Commissioner level) and in it Anthony France confirms to the MPS that the leak came from… wait for it… Scotland Yard.
It is of no surprise to me why the MPS did all it could to ‘withhold’ this vital document from me, as the News International reporter actually tells the MPS last July that my private information came from its own organisation.
Even with all of this, the IPCC refuse to do anything. The IPCC doesn’t want to investigate properly, because once it opens up that can of worms, it will be hard for it to close it.
Today’s decision by the IPCC with regards to the NotW hacking I note is not to investigate the Met’s leaking of private data to News International, but that it is ‘supervising’ it.
What the IPCC should remember, apart from it being a public body is that ‘no one is above the law, or beyond reproach’.
I have sent a copy of this to the IPCC.