Crime victim propositioned by MPS detective takes legal action

A female victim of crime is taking legal action against the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) after a detective who told her she was “amazingly hot” while investigating her attack kept his job.

Feb 7, 2022
By Website Editor

Kristina O’Connor, now 33, was sent numerous inappropriate messages by Detective Chief Inspector James Mason after he responded to her report of an attempted robbery in October 2011.

The officer, who at the time was a detective sergeant, asked her out to dinner while taking her statement about the incident, in which she was assaulted by a group of men trying to steal her phone.

Det Chief Insp Mason, who went on to work alongside MPS Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick, then sent Ms O’Connor a series of personal emails including one telling her she was “amazingly hot”.

Ms O’Connor, the daughter of late comedian Des O’Connor, told the PA news agency: “I no longer trust the police. I feel that I am as likely to be abused by a police officer as I am by anyone else and perhaps even more likely, as I’ve seen that police officers can harm people with impunity. I am fearful of having to call or depend upon the police.”

Following her complaint about Det Chief Insp Mason a panel at a police misconduct hearing last year found him guilty of gross misconduct. The MPS confirmed he remains a serving officer.

“I feel appalled that the officer in question is still serving… I question what it takes for an officer to be dismissed. It makes a mockery of the misconduct process that he continues to serve,” Ms O’Connor said.

Lawyers for Ms O’Connor are arguing that the force “failed to properly investigate” the complaint as a case of gender discrimination. They are seeking a judicial review of how the investigation was handled.

Nancy Collins, a solicitor at Hodge Jones and Allen, said the case pointed to “more than just a rotten apple” within the police force. Speaking to the PA news agency, she said: “[Ms O’Connor] was subjected to this terrible misogynistic culture which meant that she suffered this abuse by the officer investigating her crime.

“When she then decided to step forward and complain about this, the Met, I think because the culture of misogyny is so deep-rooted, failed to recognise that her complaint had raised issues of sex discrimination and, we say, didn’t adequately investigate it.”

When Ms O’Connor attended the misconduct hearing, she “wasn’t kept informed” and was left waiting in the building after the panel had gone home having reached its decision, Ms Collins said.

“She felt very excluded from the process. She wasn’t kept informed. In fact the panel went home having reached a conclusion. Nobody told Kristina it had gone home, so she was waiting in the building. So that experience for her was pretty traumatic.”

Ms O’Connor said: “My experience of the misconduct hearing was terrible. There was a complete lack of care and support for me as a victim.”

Emails recovered from the Det Chief Insp Mason provide greater insights into the incident.

He wrote: “Please look after yourself while you’re out in Camden. Hopefully you will not be a victim of crime again but if you ever fancy having a drink with a very discreet police officer just let me know, it would be my pleasure. If you have any visible injuries that you would like me to record then I am happy to take a picture for you and save it in case we manage to get any further in the investigation. I hope it doesn’t hurt too much and I am sure you still look amazingly hot.”

Ms O’Connor replied:  “You’re presuming that I’m unaffected enough by the crime to come on to me? Isn’t there some kind of code of practice that you are breaking right now?”

Det Chief Insp Mason replied: “Kristina, have faith in my detective ability and experience. Actually, coming on to victims is positively encouraged, it’s all part of the friendly and accessible face of the Met Police. It’s the rejection that’s frowned upon.”

Ms O’Connor  retorted: “You have no shame! You could get fired for this!”

Det Chief Insp Mason replied: “You are probably right on both counts. I can assure that I am as determined in my pursuit of criminals as I am of beautiful women if that helps. You know where I am if you ever change your mind or need a friendly police officer.”

An MPS spokesperson said: “We recognise there is a need for real change in the Met. We are committed to creating an environment that is intolerant to those who do not uphold the high values and standards expected of us. Any victim of crime should have the confidence and trust to come to police to receive the support and professionalism they rightfully expect.

“Where this does not happen, we want to know about it so any learning and, if appropriate, disciplinary action can be taken.”

The force confirmed it was aware of the judicial review but said it was not prepared to discuss the case further.

The Independent Office for Police Misconduct (IOPC), which is listed as an interested party in the case, said Ms O’Connor had not appealed when it decided the case should be investigated as gross misconduct.

A spokesperson said it made this call “based on the information provided” to it by officers who conducted the initial inquiries into the complaint.

“The IOPC agrees there is serious public concern about abuse of position by police officers for the purposes of sexual gain, which should be taken into account when assessing the degree to which confidence in policing may have been undermined and the appropriate sanction.”

 

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