One of Scotland Yard’s most senior black female officers, who was sacked after being sent a WhatsApp message featuring a child abuse video, has been reinstated after a tribunal ruled her dismissal had been unfair
Acting Chief Superintendent Novlett Robyn Williams, 56, was sentenced to 200 hours of community service and sacked from the force, after being found guilty of possessing an indecent image in November 2019.
She was one of 17 people in a WhatsApp group to receive the unsolicited message and her trial heard it could not be proved that she had ever opened the video.
Her sacking caused widespread anger amongst her colleagues who pointed out that she had an unblemished career record and had even been decorated for her work after the Grenfell disaster.
On Wednesday a Police Appeals Tribunal overturned her dismissal and replaced it with a final written warning after ruling that her sacking had been unreasonable and unfair.
She will now be allowed to return to her role with the Metropolitan Police and continue her 36-year service.
Speaking after the tribunal Williams expressed her relief and said she was looking forward to getting back to work.
She said: “I am extremely pleased with today’s outcome and would like to thank the members of the panel for their decision, Gerard Boyle QC for continually fighting my case, and for the countless people within policing and beyond, including representatives of the Police Superintendents’ Association, who have supported me throughout.
“For over a year, before and during the pandemic, I have continued to support local people by working within community initiatives. I am therefore delighted to be able to return to the work I love, serving our communities within London.”
Video was ‘circulated out of disgust’
Williams was arrested in 2018 after receiving a WhatsApp message from her sister which featured a 54 second clip featuring a child aged around five-years-old engaging in a sex act with a man.
Their trial heard that none of those involved had any sexual interest in children, but had circulated the video out of disgust, in the hope those responsible for filming it could be identified.
Williams insisted she had not even opened and viewed the video because she had been at a dance class when it was sent.
But prosecutors argued that Williams had a legal duty to report her sister for forwarding the video and she was convicted of possessing an indecent image in November 2018.
In February this year she lost an appeal against her conviction and she was also sacked from the Met for gross misconduct.
The decision to overturn that dismissal means she can now return to work despite her conviction and the finding of gross misconduct.
Victor Marshall from the Police Superintendents’ Association, said: “We have continued to support Robyn since the original allegations against her were made. We are pleased that today’s panel agreed that her dismissal was unreasonable in light of the complex circumstances surrounding her conviction and we are delighted she will be able to continue to serve the communities of London.”
In a statement the Met said: “The tribunal determined Ms Williams’ dismissal should be replaced with a final written warning. We await the full judgment. Once received, we will then consider the ruling and engage with Ms Williams’ representatives accordingly.”