Police officer who called three black men "f****** monkeys" weeps in dock as he and colleague cleared of racial harassment

Police officer who called three black men 'f****** monkeys' weeps in dock as he and colleague cleared of racial harassmentMetropolitan 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 sayHair 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

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UPDATED:

22:51 GMT, 29 November 2012

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.

PC Kevin Hughes

 PC David Hair

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.

PC Costas Dakoutros

Julia Dacres

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

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.