A former officer who won a £37,000 payout from her force in a high-profile race discrimination case is now seeking £144,000 in compensation after accusing the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) of being “institutionally racist and corrupt”.
Carol Howard, 39, left the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) in 2015 after winning her case when a tribunal found she had been bullied, harassed and victimised while serving as one of only two black officers in the force’s 700-strong Diplomatic Protection Group.
She took a temporary job as an investigator with the IPCC in October the following year but left in March 2017 after she was asked to account for more than 30 discrepancies in her time sheets and refused to?engage in the subsequent internal investigation.
In November last year she launched a legal action against the IPCC – replaced in January by the Independent Office for Police Conduct – claiming that senior executives “believe their duty is not to investigate officers but to protect the reputation of the police force concerned and its senior officers in particular”.
She also alleged that some investigators at the IPCC secretly support "racist police officers" they are investigating. As a result, they try to “frustrate, delay, restrict and close down investigations” to protect the targets of their inquiries.
She told the Central London Employment Tribunal last week that the old IPCC, while investigating misconduct and racism, was itself riddled with corruption and discriminatory practices.
But the tribunal was reportedly shown many examples of Ms Howard stating in her time sheets that she had started work at 9am when her unique swipe card data showed she had often started an hour later or had left work before the time she had stated in her time sheets.
She said that challenging employees about their time sheets was a “method of attacking black and ethnic minority staff”.
The tribunal judge explained he was trying to decide whether the employer was discriminatory in investigating the perceived irregularities.
The portrait of former firearms officer Ms Howard – complete with Heckler & Koch semi-automatic rifle – was used to promote the MPS during the 2012 Olympics. She served the Diplomatic Protection Group between January 31 and the end of October that year.
Giving evidence at the latest tribunal, Ms Howard told how her initial application to work at the IPCC was rejected without interview.
But the single mother was successful in October 2016 after re-applying under her married name Carol McCabe.
She claims she threw her new employer “into a panic” when she changed her name back to Carol Howard on the police system.
Ms Howard said her bosses at the IPCC were fearful that hiring her could be regarded by the MPS as an act of "revenge" against the service.
The IPCC banned her from working on any cases investigating the MPS, she claimed, leading to her role being undermined. She said that she was later also sidelined from other major investigations.
She claimed that other black and ethnic minority IPCC officers told her they were also “treated differently” from their white colleagues and suffered from a 'hostile working environment'. She said in her view, the IPCC was an institutionally racist employer and unfit to investigate claims of race discrimination against the police.
Ms Howard accused the IPCC of “covering up” the racism of a senior police officer in another force whom she was tasked to investigate.
She left the IPCC after it decided against renewing her contract in March 2017.
The IPCC strongly refutes all the allegations made by Ms Howard and is vigorously contesting her tribunal claim.
She is seeking £144,000 in damages for loss of earnings and injury to feelings.
Her £37,000 award from the MPS included aggravated damages over distress she suffered at the hands of one colleague, who had been “malicious, vindictive and spiteful”. The July 2014 tribunal ruled the force had "singled out and targeted" Ms Howard.
She resigned after 14 years' service.
Subsequently, in September 2016, the MPS was sharply criticised over how it responded to complaints of internal discrimination.
A two-year Equality and Human Rights Commission review into practices at the London force found that ethnic minority, gay and female police officers and staff who raise complaints of discrimination expect to be victimised and fear reprisals such as being denied promotion.
But it added that while there were elements of poor practice by the force, they did not amount to a breach of equality legislation.
Her latest tribunal, expected to last two weeks, continues.