Police officer who called three black men 'f****** monkeys' weeps in dock as he and colleague cleared of racial harassment
- Metropolitan Police constables Kevin Hughes, 36, and Pc David Hair, 42, were both found not guilty on two separate charges each
- ‘Black people haven’t evolved, they live in mud huts in Africa,’ a colleague heard Hughes say
- Hair was alleged to have racially abused PC Julia Dacres while travelling in a police minibus
- Hughes wept and Hair signed with relief as the verdicts were announced at Westminster Magistrates’ Court
Two police officers were cleared of racial harassment today after one admitted saying a black man looked like a monkey while another allegedly told a black colleague that she was 'going home to cook bananas'.
Metropolitan Police constables Kevin Hughes, 36, and Pc David Hair, 42, were both found not guilty on two separate charges each at London's Westminster Magistrates' Court.
PC Kevin Hughes, 42, was patrolling the East End of London in a squad car when he made the remark about a black man looking like a monkey to colleague PC Costas Dakoutros.
Cleared: Metropolitan Police constables Kevin Hughes, 36, left, and Pc David Hair, 42, right, were both found not guilty on two separate charges each at London's Westminster Magistrates' Court
When challenged by PC Dakoutros, Hughes said ‘It’s true’ and added: ‘They’re closely related to chimpanzees and more closely related to Neanderthals.’
During the same patrol another workmate, PC Kirk Baker, heard Hughes say: ‘Black people haven’t evolved, they live in mud huts in Africa.’
He went on to say that black people’s ‘sticking out ears and thick lips’ made them resemble primates.
Prosecutors claimed the case revealed a culture of racism in the Victim Offenders Location Time (VOLT) team which was based in Newham, one of the most ethnically diverse areas of the country.
But Hughes, along with PC David Hair, 36, a fellow member of the VOLT team, was cleared of a public order offence and racially aggravated harassment.
Hughes wept as District Judge Howard Riddle announced the verdicts at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, while Hair signed with relief.
Witnesses: Hair was alleged to have racially abused PC Julia Dacres, right. PC Kevin Hughes, 42, made the remark about a black man looking like a monkey to colleague PC Costas Dakoutros, left
Hair was alleged to have racially abused PC Julia Dacres while travelling in a police minibus last March 13.
He asked her if she was going to do some overtime and then said: ‘I didn’t know if you were going to go into a little rant and say how you had to go home and cook bananas’.
Hughes would also talk in a mock-Asian accent call other officers ‘auntie’ and ‘uncle’.
He thought it was hilarious because he had dealt with Asian man who said he was ‘visiting his aunty for a party’ in a very thick accent.
He admitted he had referred to the men’s similarities to monkeys but said it was during an innocent conversation about evolution and had nothing to do with his race.
‘I just said it has nothing to do with him being black, I noticed him because he had elongated limbs, his gait,’ Hughes told the court.
‘I said that was why I picked him out, because of the way he was walking - it was a fleeting glance.
‘I was just trying to reinforce my point that I believe that some human beings had characteristics that resemble monkeys.’
In the dock: The trial took place at London's Westminster Magistrates' Court, pictured
Hair admitted making the bananas comment, but denied that it was racially motivated.
Senior District Judge Howard Riddle said: 'Whatever precisely Pc Hughes said, it was unacceptable and offensive.'
He said that 'in these circumstances it did not amount to a criminal offence'.
Noting that 'context is central', Mr Riddle pointed out there had been no aggression or threat.
He said: 'Freedom of speech is a cherished principle. Freedom of speech includes the freedom to be offensive.
'It is, of course, restrained in a number of ways - employers can require employees to avoid offensive language or lose their jobs. The civil courts can provide redress for harm caused.
'But when the state tells people what they can or cannot say, on pain of criminal sanction, the position is different. Citizens expect strong justification for curtailing freedom of expression. Offensiveness is not enough. Context is central.'
Hughes, of Ingrave, Essex, and Hair of Epping, Essex, were both found not guilty of one count of using threatening, abusive, or insulting words or behaviour to cause another person harassment, alarm, or distress and alternative charge of racially aggravated harassment.
The judge praised the MPS and CPS for bringing the case.