…By Henry George for TDPel Media.
James Mason, a former Sergeant at Kentish Town police station, is facing a judicial review following allegations of misconduct and harassment made by Kristina O’Connor, a victim of a robbery.
The court heard that Mason, who was responsible for investigating O’Connor’s case, not only made inappropriate remarks but also pursued a romantic relationship with her, despite the significant age difference and his professional role.
Harassment and Abuse of Position:
O’Connor, the daughter of the late TV star Des O’Connor, disclosed her occupation as a croupier at the Playboy casino to Mason.
Instead of maintaining professional boundaries, Mason asked intrusive and personal questions, often with heavy sexual overtones.
He even invited O’Connor for dinner after she informed him about being mugged on her way to Sainsbury’s.
In subsequent email exchanges, Mason continued his inappropriate behavior, inviting O’Connor for drinks and making explicit comments about her appearance.
Rejection and Professional Misconduct:
When O’Connor confronted Mason about his behavior, he responded defensively, suggesting that coming on to victims was encouraged within the police force.
He displayed a lack of remorse and implied that rejection was frowned upon.
O’Connor reported Mason’s actions in October 2020, leading to a misconduct hearing in which Mason, now a Detective Chief Inspector, was found guilty of gross misconduct.
However, he received a lenient three-year written warning instead of more severe penalties, prompting O’Connor to bring a High Court Judicial Review claim, arguing for his dismissal.
Alleged Failures and Crisis within the Metropolitan Police:
O’Connor accuses the Metropolitan Police of failing in their investigation of her complaint against Mason and not presenting all relevant material to the misconduct panel.
This raises concerns about the efficacy and transparency of the disciplinary process within the police force.
Mason’s misconduct hearing occurred during a period of heightened scrutiny, as it coincided with the conviction of Wayne Couzens for the rape and murder of Sarah Everard and the identification of another officer, David Carrick, as a rapist, contributing to an ongoing crisis within Scotland Yard.
Retirement and Legal Challenge:
Following his retirement from the Metropolitan Police in 2022, Mason is contesting all aspects of O’Connor’s Judicial Review claim.
He is challenging the legality of the misconduct panel’s findings, arguing that they misinterpreted the law and considered irrelevant factors during their decision-making process.
Mason’s challenge further emphasizes the importance of a fair and lawful disciplinary process within the police force.
Statement from the Met Commissioner:
Met Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley condemned Mason’s behavior, describing it as “abusive and predatory,” and expressing his belief that officers engaging in such misconduct have no place in the Metropolitan Police Service.
However, the Commissioner acknowledges that he lacks the authority to summarily dismiss an officer and must rely on the existing regulatory system.
Legal Support and Hearing Continuation:
O’Connor is currently in court, supported by lawyers from Hodge, Jones, and Allen, as well as the Good Law Project.
The hearing, which is expected to last two days, will determine the outcome of O’Connor’s Judicial Review claim and potentially impact future disciplinary proceedings within the police force.
The case involving James Mason highlights the serious allegations of misconduct and harassment against a police officer.
It raises questions about the appropriateness of relationships between officers and victims, as well as the effectiveness of the disciplinary process within the Metropolitan Police.
The lenient punishment Mason received despite the findings of gross misconduct underscores the need for a comprehensive review of the disciplinary system to ensure accountability.
The outcome of this judicial review will likely have far-reaching implications for the handling of similar cases and the overall culture within the police force.