A police officer who flashed his warrant card to try to make conversation with a lone jogger before telling her she “looked too curvy to be Asian” has been fired.
Imran Aftab has been sacked by the British Transport Police (BTP) following a ‘landmark ruling’ by the High Court which overturned an earlier misconduct panel decision allowing him to keep his job.
The central London-based PC was found guilty of gross misconduct by an independent panel in May 2021, but received a final written warning rather than be banned from the profession.
But the BTP successfully challenged the decision through judicial review, described by police chief Lucy D’Orsi as “a historic ruling that preserves my faith in justice” amid an “ongoing fight to restore trust of women in the police.
In a ruling written Friday, Judge Charles Bagot KC described the misconduct panel’s decision as unreasonable and it was overturned. Aftab is now formally dismissed from the force.
Ms D’Orsi said: “There is no place for anyone like Imran Aftab in the police, so we were determined to overturn the independent panel’s decision that had allowed him to continue his role as a police officer, despite being a risk to the women he was hired to protect.
On April 15, 2020, Aftab had parked his car while off duty and approached the jogger before using his police warrant card to try to talk to her.
At the misconduct hearing it was said that it was an attempt to abuse his position for a sexual purpose.
The panel accepted that she used her clearance card in an effort to impress and woo her victim while telling her she “looks too curvaceous to be Asian” and asking for a hug.
This was profoundly inappropriate and also violated the government’s social distancing guidelines that were in place at the time, the BTP said.
His victim texted her friend at the time of the incident saying, “Help me.”
In its judicial review, the BTP argued that the panel’s approach was unlawful and that it had failed to understand the seriousness of Aftab’s behaviour.
He responded in the High Court stating that he was a “victim of the times we live in today”.
But the judge ruled that “there could only be a rational and reasonable disciplinary outcome” from their behavior and BTP was “correct in observing that these proceedings capture a real and present national concern about the conduct of male police officers towards women.” lonely”.
The judge stated that it was his “own choice to approach a lonely woman and indulge in prejudiced racial stereotypes and sexualized language, among other troubling features of his conduct, that have been the downfall of his law enforcement career.”
BTP said that after the May 2021 misconduct hearing, Aftab’s suspension no longer applied because the regulatory process was over.
But Ms. D’Orsi used her powers to remove her warrant card pending judicial review, meaning she was banned from BTP premises.
After the force’s successful legal challenge on Friday, Ms D’Orsi said: “This is a strong position and an expensive step for a police force, and I hope it reassures everyone of our determination to uphold the standards expected of those who work within the British Transport Police and to root out those who corrupt our integrity.
“Using a warrant card to influence a lonely woman for the sexual gain of an officer is a total abuse of police powers and so seriously undermines public trust that it is destructive to the very fabric of consent policing.
“It is completely inexcusable for a woman to feel so intimidated by the actions of a police officer that she feels compelled to text her friend for help.
“That’s why we were so determined to make sure he didn’t work another day as a police officer, and I’m pleased the judge accepted our challenge today.”
In a blog posted after the ruling, Ms. D’Orsi called for greater transparency and accountability to support professionalism in the police.
She wrote: ‘Most importantly, I have asked the Home Office to give police chiefs the power to decide whether to fire an officer where serious misconduct has been proven by an independent panel.
‘Ultimately, I am responsible for the actions of everyone I employ. We hear a lot about common sense policing these days and I’ve always been a huge fan.
What defies common sense more than a system that requires me to hold a police officer who I believe is a danger to the public, and specifically to lonely women? I can’t think of much.
She added: “While I am grateful for the judge’s ruling, it should never have come to this.
‘No one would want us to have to use public money in this way. We do not want to work with corrupt officials, abusers or sexual predators. But the system has to help us.’
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