‘I was a token’, says female black police firearms officer

Carol Howard  Photo: PA/Camera Press


Carol Howard, who is suing the Met for racial and sexual discrimination, says she was “singled out” and used to prove the force was no longer racist

2:18PM BST 01 Apr 2014

A black firearms officer who is suing the Metropolitan Police for racial and sexual discrimination claims she was a “token” used by the force to try to prove it was diverse.

Carol Howard, 34, said she was put forward for an interview in the wake of the shooting of Mark Duggan, at a time when her unit had a “bad reputation”.

She told an employment tribunal that she was also tasked with driving Baroness Lawrence, the mother of murdered Stephen Lawrence, in what she saw as an attempt by the Met to prove it was no longer racist.

Pc Howard, a member of Scotland Yard’s elite SO6 Diplomatic Protection Group who helped safeguard London from terror attacks during the Olympics, is suing the Met Police for racial discrimination, claiming that the DPG’s then Acting Inspector Dave Kelly obstructed her promotion because of her race and gender.

Giving evidence on Tuesday, Pc Howard said in a written statement that in June 2012 she was asked to do a photo shoot with the Evening Standard newspaper.

“At the time I was aware of the Mark Duggan investigation occurring in the press and it was my opinion that the questions were based around the recent events.

“I felt I had been singled out and chosen as a black female officer to represent diversity and to change the public image of white police shooting a black youth.”

She added: “I felt that once again I was being used as a token by the organisation.”

Mr Duggan, 29, was shot and killed by police in Tottenham, London, in August 2011. His death sparked the worst riots in modern British history.

Referring to the incident involving Baroness Lawrence, PC Howard said she was asked by the then chief inspector to “run an errand”, and take then then Mrs Lawrence from Brixton police station to Frank O’Neil House.

She said: “I felt I was called upon to demonstrate to Mrs Lawrence that the organisation had come a long way as here I stood as a successful black female officer.”

But Pc Howard said she felt the force had learnt nothing from the Macpherson inquiry, which delivered a damning assessment of “institutional racism” within the Met.

She told the tribunal: “It shows the Met have not learnt any lessons from the Macpherson report.”

Pc Howard, who joined the force aged 21, said her treatment had had a detrimental affect on her personal life.

In her statement she said: “Precious time spent with my children has been affected and compromised. Time, which I will never get back. My children have been impacted by this case.

“They cannot understand why their mom (sic) is always upset and no longer enjoys going to work. My six year old daughter only last week asked me if I was going to leave the police service, I asked her why she was asking and her reply ‘my school friend told me they treat you bad mommy. Her mom said so.’ I have had to reassure my children that I will be fine.”

She added: “The respondent has done absolutely nothing to support me or protect me in this matter. They are intent on dragging me through the wars and making me out to be an officer that is simply pulling the race card when this couldn’t be further from the truth.”

The tribunal in London has previously heard from Pc Howard’s colleague, Pc Gary Flaherty who said he had seen her “visibly upset and in tears” after one incident involving Acting Inspector Dave Kelly, when he had stood holding his gun and a Taser stun gun while dressing her down in front of senior officers.

A Met spokesman said it would “robustly defend the claim.”

The hearing continues.