UK: Officer who wrote Met’s drug strategy smoked cannabis daily, panel told

The Guardian reports on this ongoing story


A senior Metropolitan police commander who wrote the force’s drug strategy allegedly smoked cannabis in front of his lodger every day, a gross misconduct hearing has been told.

Commander Julian Bennett later threatened to resign when he was asked to take a drug test on 21 July 2020, a disciplinary panel heard.

At a hearing in south-west London on Friday, Mark Ley-Morgan QC, representing the police, said Bennett’s explanation for refusing to give a sample for the test – that he had taken CBD (cannabidiol) for a medical condition that caused embarrassing facial symptoms – was implausible.

“He tried to resign on the spot, asked someone to go to speak to the commissioner and ask if she would let him resign,” said Ley-Morgan. “He then provided an explanation for why he thought his sample might be positive. Why would you provide that explanation but then refuse to give a sample? It makes no sense.”

He said the refusal “does make sense if you think your sample will reveal that you are a habitual user of cannabis” or that it would be inconsistent with mere use of CBD oil.

The panel heard that Sheila Gomes, a nurse, who Bennett took in as his lodger for eight to 10 weeks in late 2019, contacted the police seven months later alleging drug use.

John Beggs QC, acting for Bennett, argued on Friday that the case should be thrown out because of disclosure failures by the police and the fact they were now seeking to rely on written – rather than oral – evidence by Gomes, which would deny defence counsel the opportunity to cross-examine the “sole and decisive witness”.

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