News, Culture & Society

Former Scotland Yard boss slams prosecution of highly decorated black officer for indecent images

Novlett Robyn Williams, who was commended for her work after the Grenfell Tower disaster, was sentenced to 200 hours of community service on Tuesday

A former commissioner of the Met Police has criticised the prosecution of a highly decorated black officer for possessing indecent images of children.

Novlett Robyn Williams, who was commended for her work after the Grenfell Tower disaster and described as a ‘Golden Girl’ of the force, was sentenced to 200 hours of community service at the Old Bailey on Tuesday. 

She previously served as acting chief superintendent and was a rising star, once tipped to become the first black head of Scotland Yard.

Williams was one of 17 people to be sent the indecent video over WhatsApp from her older sister and co-defendant Jennifer Hodge, who wanted the person in the video to be prosecuted.

The 54-year-old chose not to inform police through fear it would implicate her sister and her partner, jurors at the Old Bailey were told.

Police had already been alerted to the video by another recipient, rather than Williams, who as a senior police officer had an obligation to report it herself, the court heard.

The court accepted Williams did not view the material, although jurors were not convinced by Williams’ claim she was unaware of its presence on her phone.

Here conviction raised fears that simply being sent an image could lead to a criminal conviction as a sex offender. 

The former Metropolitan Police commissioner Lord Blair of Boughton criticised police and prosecutors for charging Williams with possessing indecent images of children.

In a letter to The Times, Lord Blair said of Williams: ‘I have not heard the evidence. I do not criticise the conviction because that is a matter for the judge and jury but I am very concerned about the decision to prosecute.

‘The code for prosecutors is explicit that a prosecution must be in the public interest. This is a police officer, a public servant, who has had an exemplary career.’

Concerns were also raised for black police officers across the UK after Williams was told her career was over due to her conviction. 

Metropolitan Police Superintendent Novlett Robyn Williams arrives at the Old Bailey for her sentencing on Tuesday

 Metropolitan Police Superintendent Novlett Robyn Williams arrives at the Old Bailey for her sentencing on Tuesday 

The Black Police Association (BPA) said her prosecution is an example of the Met’s institutional racism and the group claims the force had the discretion to not pursue Williams, but decided to anyway.   

The BPA stated on Wednesday that internal guidance on such matters allows for the person in question to be treated with discretion, especially when there was ‘no sexual gratification’ from the video.

In a statement the group added: ‘The question that is now asked, is why was this discretion not afforded to Supt Williams.

Lord Blair of Boughton criticised the Met Police and the Crown Prosecution Service for charging Novlett Robyn Williams

Lord Blair of Boughton criticised the Met Police and the Crown Prosecution Service for charging Novlett Robyn Williams

‘The MetBPA position is that this is a classic example of institutional racism. The clip was sent to 17 people and only three people were convicted. 

‘It is well documented about the disproportionally that exists within misconduct and complaint of officers and staff from an African, Caribbean or Asian background.’

Williams was sent the video – which lasted less than a minute – by Hodge who had received it from her partner, bus driver Dido Massivi, 61, in February last year. 

Williams, of south London, showed no emotion as sentence was passed down by Judge Richard Marks QC.

The judge said: ‘You have had a stellar career in the police force over 30 years. 

‘That is amply demonstrated by the awards you received, the rank you achieved, and truly outstanding character references.

‘Against this background, it is completely tragic you found yourself in the position you now do.’

He added: ‘The consequences to you of this conviction will undoubtedly be immense, particularly as far as your employment and your career are concerned.’

Scotland Yard said Williams remains on restricted duties, though she could yet end up losing her career pending a misconduct investigation into the matters. 

Social worker Hodge, 56, of Brent in north-west London, was found guilty of distributing an indecent image of a child.  

Her long-term boyfriend Massivi, was convicted of two counts of distributing an indecent photograph of a child, and one count of possessing an extreme pornographic image portraying a person having sex with a horse.

Williams won Queen’s Police Medal along with dozens of awards for her service following tragedies including the Grenfell Tower fire.

Williams, 54, from south London, denied ever seeing the video, which was sent to her via WhatsApp by her sister, co-defendant Jennifer Hodge (right) Hodge's long-term boyfriend, bus driver Dido Massivi (left) was also convicted

Williams, 54, from south London, denied ever seeing the video, which was sent to her via WhatsApp by her sister, co-defendant Jennifer Hodge (right) Hodge’s long-term boyfriend, bus driver Dido Massivi (left) was also convicted

She also won a Diamond Jubilee Award and Queen’s Police Medal for tackling gang violence in Nottingham.

Former Home Secretary Jack Straw praised the officer for raising the profile of black officers in the force in 1997.

She was honoured by the Queen for her senior role during the 2011 London riots and again for helping Grenfell victims after the tower block inferno claimed 72 lives in 2017.

Her lawyer Anesta Weeks, QC, told the court: ‘It is important to her abiding devastation for the child in the video because that is the sort of person Ms Williams was in the habit of looking after and doing something about.

‘She remains devastated for the plight of that child. It is an understatement to say that she is devastated to be here in this court but from the public gallery we know that many people stand by her and support her.

‘She has lost the status which allowed my Lord to refer to her as a woman with a ‘stunning’ career. 

Richard Wright, prosecuting, said it was a ‘sad case’ of poor decision making rather than malice.’ 

(Left to right) Dido Massivi, Jennifer Hodge and Novlett Robyn Williams in the dock at the Old Bailey during their trial

(Left to right) Dido Massivi, Jennifer Hodge and Novlett Robyn Williams in the dock at the Old Bailey during their trial 

He said: ‘This was a video that all right-minded people would find disturbing and disgusting

‘The person who should have reported it and taken immediate steps to do so was Miss Williams the sister of Jennifer Hodge. 

‘As an experienced officer of high standing we say she knew full well what was expected of her and moreover that there was an urgent child welfare need to report the video as soon as she saw it.

‘It would have been clear, by which I mean not blurred, and we say it would have been immediately obvious what it was; an indecent video of a child.’

Hodge tried to claim during the trial she was only attempting to report the video to the police.

One of her colleagues was ‘appalled’ by what she saw and immediately reported it to the police who soon arrested Hodge and Massivi.

When she was being arrested Hodge said: ‘My sister is a Chief Inspector so I will call her because first of all you’ve pushed the door in.’

Giving evidence Williams said she would ‘absolutely never’ let a family relationship stop her from reporting a crime.

She cited two incidents when she was off-duty and acted to protect a child from harm while arguing she would never have ignored the video.

Asked whether she would have reported the video had she seen it, Williams said: ‘If I’d have seen anything remotely like that I simply, simply would have picked up my phone, rung my inspector and asked how the best way was to get this evidence into the chain of action so we could absolutely safeguard and protect this child if the act is what you’ve described.’ 

Chief Superintendent Williams pictured with Mayor of London Sadiq Khan in 2016

Chief Superintendent Williams pictured with Mayor of London Sadiq Khan in 2016

Massivi claimed he received the video on February 2 last year and sent it to his wife because he wanted her to report it.

He told jurors he tried to show it to her but she said she was busy doing coursework and asked to be sent it electronically. 

Massivi said he was driving a bus on Saturday 3 February when Hodge looked at the sickening clip.  

Supt Williams, of south London, denied but was convicted of one count of possession of an indecent photograph of a child.

She was cleared of one charge of corrupt or improper exercise of police powers and privileges by a constable.

She was sentenced to a community order of 200 hours unpaid work.

Hodge handed her a community order of 100 hours unpaid work. Massivi denied but was convicted of two counts of distributing an indecent photograph of a child and possession of extreme porn.

He was handed an 18-month prison sentence suspended for two years with 200 hours unpaid work.

Massivi must sign on a notification register for ten years, while Hodge and Williams were ordered to do so for five years.    

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


Comments are closed.