A senior police officer who lost her job with the Metropolitan Police has won her appeal against dismissal after she was convicted of possessing a child abuse video on her phone.
A court was told that Novlett Robyn Williams, 56, had been sent the video on WhatsApp by her sister, co-defendant Jennifer Hodge, but she did not view the material.
Jurors at her trial were not convinced by her claim she was unaware of its presence on her phone, however, and she was sentenced in November 2019 to 200 hours of community service.
In March 2020, she was dismissed from the force with immediate effect after a special disciplinary hearing found her conviction amounted to “gross misconduct”.
On Wednesday, Williams appealed against the decision to sack her and it was upheld by a panel which decided that she should have been issued with a final written warning rather than being dismissed.
The Police Superintendents’ Association said the independent panel found her dismissal from the Met was “unfair” and “unreasonable” and, as a result, her appeal against losing her job was successful.
The trial at the Old Bailey heard that Williams received the video from her 57-year-old sister Hodge, who had originally been sent the clip by her long-term boyfriend, 63-year-old Dido Massivi.
Jurors heard that Williams had an exemplary disciplinary record and was highly regarded for her work at successive Notting Hill Carnivals and commended for her work after the Grenfell Tower disaster.
Among the commendations she received was the Queen’s Police Medal for distinguished service in 2003.
Williams said after the appeal verdict: “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.”
Police Superintendents’ Association professional standards coordinator Victor Marshall said: “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.”
A Metropolitan Police statement said: “We are aware of the outcome of today’s police appeals tribunal in which Novlett Robyn Williams appealed her dismissal without notice following her conviction for possessing an indecent image of a child.
“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.”
It is expected the full judgment will be published in about a week’s time.
In February, Williams’ appeal against her conviction for having a child abuse video on her phone was refused by the Court of Appeal.