Ex-UK police officers sentenced for sending racist messages about Meghan, royals

December 09, 2023

LONDON: Six former London police officers on Friday were given suspended prison sentences for sharing offensive and racist messages on WhatsApp, including references to Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, and other members of the royal family.

In a statement after the sentencing hearing Commander James Harman, who leads the Metropolitan Police’s Anti-Corruption and Abuse Command, said “the racist and discriminatory content of these messages is absolutely appalling”. “Given the defendants once served as police officers, we recognise that this case may further damage confidence in policing,” Harman said.

Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle speaks during the 2021 Global Citizen Live festival at the Great Lawn, Central Park on September 25, 2021 in New York City.— AFP File

The six officers, who have all retired, were charged after an investigation by the BBC’s Newsnight programme which discovered the men sent the messages between August 2018 and September 2022, a period when they had all left the police.

Three of the messages featured racist comments about Meghan, the wife of King Charles’ younger son, Prince Harry. Meghan’s mother is Black and her father is white. One of these messages also included a picture of the late Queen Elizabeth and her husband Prince Philip, while others referenced Charles’ eldest son and heir Prince William and his wife Kate, along with Rishi Sunak, Britain’s first prime minister of colour.

Five of the former officers, aged in their 60s, pleaded guilty to sending offensive messages in September and were all sentenced on Thursday to between six and 14 weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for 12 months.