City of London police officer sacked for offensive message – but contents of it not revealed

A City of London police officer has been sacked for sending an offensive message, after a six-minute misconduct hearing that did not disclose what he actually wrote.

PC Billy Luetchford quit the force in February but still faced disciplinary proceedings on Thursday over a “grossly offensive” message he sent on July 3, 2021.

A misconduct hearing chaired by Commissioner of the City of London Police Angela McLaren was held on Thursday, and concluded with Luetchford’s dismissal for breaching professional standards with “discreditable conduct”.

Details of the offending message – including who it was sent to, what it contained, and whether it was sent while Luetchford was on duty – have been kept under wraps by the force.

Also kept secret was the contents of a letter penned by the disgraced officer to the misconduct proceedings, although the hearing was told he “does not contest the allegation”.

A notice of the misconduct hearing was posted online by City of London Police before the hearing, setting out: “It is alleged that on July 3, 2021 the subject officer sent a grossly offensive message by way of a public communications network to another person.”

But the Commissioner made no reference at all to the allegation in the course of the briefing public proceedings.

The hearing sat in public for a first session lasting just four minutes, when it was revealed that Luetchford had chosen not to attend and sent his letter to the force on July 28.

In the second sitting, which lasted two minutes, Ms McLaren said she had “reviewed the facts” in private.

She then found Luetchford’s actions “fell well below the standards expected”, and reached a gross misconduct finding. Stories01:12FTSE 100 Live 16 August: UK inflation falls to 6.8%; Avivaand Admiral resultsShe moved straight to the final stage of the process, saying publicly that she has “considered all the facts, including his letter, admissions, and apology”.

“The outcome is dismissal with immediate effect”, she said, and ordered that Luetchford’s name is added to the Police Barring List.

An Evening Standard request to see the paperwork underpinning the misconduct hearing was rejected, and officers later confirmed that Police Regulation 63.5 had been relied on to keep parts of the process secret.

The published misconduct notice was removed from the website within an hour of the hearing concluding.

In a statement issued after the hearing, the Commissioner said: “Having heard the accelerated misconduct case for and against PC Billy Luetchford on the basis of discreditable conduct, I am able to determine that we would have dismissed him from City of London Police, had he not resigned. 

“We take every action necessary to maintain our professional standards and expect all staff to serve with professionalism, integrity, and compassion. There is no place in the police force for officers whose behaviour falls so far from what we, as well as the public, expect.

“His name will also be placed on the barred list held by the College of Policing, to ensure he will never be able to work in policing again.”

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