Email 'joke' policeman rightly sacked

Posted: 29th November 2012

A police constable who sent explicit emails to a friend who was later convicted of sexual activity with a 14-year-old girl will be dismissed from the force following a High Court ruling that his admitted misconduct made his Policeposition on the force untenable. As well as ‘joking’ about rape in one email exchange with Robert Meade, PC Paul Woollard had made unauthorised use of the police intelligence system to run checks on his friend who was subsequently sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment after admitting the sex offence.

The chief constable of Wiltshire had directed PC Woollard’s dismissal for gross misconduct after an internal disciplinary procedure. However that decision was subsequently overturned by the Police Appeals Tribunal (PAT) which decided that terminating his police career would be ‘unreasonably harsh’ in light of his remorse and that he should instead be issued with a final warning.

Upholding the chief constable’s challenge to the PAT’s decision, Mr Justice Wyn Williams said that there had been nothing unreasonable about the Chief Constable's view that the ‘simply appalling’ email, combined with PC Woollard's other admitted misconduct, meant that he could not remain a serving police officer. The PAT had erred in placing PC Woollard's misconduct ‘in the most favourable light’ and had failed to properly consider the overriding need to maintain public confidence in the police service.