Home   News   National   Article

Six former Met officers given suspended sentences for sending racist messages


By PA News

Easier access to your trusted, local news. Subscribe to a digital package and support local news publishing.



Click here to sign up to our free newsletters!

Six former Metropolitan Police officers have been given suspended sentences after being found guilty of sending grossly offensive racist messages on WhatsApp.

Michael Chadwell, 62, Peter Booth, 66, Anthony Elsom, 67, Trevor Lewton, 65, Alan Hall, 65, and Robert Lewis, 62, were all sentenced to between six and 14 weeks’ imprisonment – suspended for 12 months – at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said.

All six men were charged with improper use of a public electronic communications network offence, contrary to the Communications Act 2003.

Former Metropolitan Police officer Peter Booth leaves the City Of London Magistrates’ Court (Jonathan Brady/PA)
Former Metropolitan Police officer Peter Booth leaves the City Of London Magistrates’ Court (Jonathan Brady/PA)

The charges, which relate to messages shared between September 2020 and 2022, came after a BBC Newsnight investigation in October last year which prompted a probe by the Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards.

Chadwell, Booth, Elsom, Lewton, Hall and Lewis were all members of the “Old Boys Beer Meet – Wales” group chat, where a number of racist, homophobic and sexist messages were exchanged, the CPS said.

More than 60 messages with offensive content were shared between members of the group during the two-year period, including references to the Duchess of Sussex, the late Queen and the late Duke of Edinburgh, and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

Former Metropolitan Police officer Robert Lewis (Jonathan Brady/PA)
Former Metropolitan Police officer Robert Lewis (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Lewis, from Camberley, Surrey, was sentenced to 14 weeks’ imprisonment suspended for 12 months, 200 hours of unpaid work and 20 Rehabilitation Activity Requirement Days.

He was also sentenced for possessing two friction batons in a private place, contrary to section 141(1A) of the Criminal Justice Act 1988, and was fined £500.

Hall, from Stowmarket, Suffolk, was given eight weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for 12 months and 140 hours of unpaid work.

Former Metropolitan Police officer Michael Chadwell (Jonathan Brady/PA)
Former Metropolitan Police officer Michael Chadwell (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Chadwell, from Liss, Hampshire, was given 10 weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for 12 months and 100 hours of unpaid work.

Booth, from Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire, received eight weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for 12 months and 140 hours of unpaid work.

Elsom, from Bournemouth, Dorset, was sentenced to eight weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for 12 months and 40 hours of unpaid work.

Lewton, from Swansea, South Wales, received six weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for 12 months and 65 hours of unpaid work.

The group, who retired between 2001 and 2015, served in various parts of the Met throughout their careers – but all spent time in the Diplomatic Protection Group, now known as the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command, the force said.

Met Commander James Harman, of the force’s Anti-Corruption and Abuse Command, said: “The racist and discriminatory content of these messages is absolutely appalling and, given the defendants once served as police officers, we recognise that this case may further damage confidence in policing. Colleagues across the Met will also be disgusted and will be pleased to see the outcome today.

“The messages were brought to our attention by the BBC’s Newsnight programme in October 2022, and we made our first arrest soon after we were notified.

“I hope this case also demonstrates our commitment to take all allegations of criminality and misconduct seriously, investigate those reports thoroughly and, where we have evidence of discrimination and abuse, to bring criminal charges against individuals.”

Commander Harman added the WhatsApp messages were “less about the technology” and more to do with “the underlying mindset and the conduct that is so important for us to deal with”.

Adeniyi Ogunleye, senior crown prosecutor at the CPS, said: “It is shocking that six retired police officers who spent their careers upholding the law could think it was acceptable to send these grossly offensive messages.

“The sentences given today clearly demonstrate that they were not just shocking or disturbing jokes, but grossly offensive messages that amount to criminal behaviour.

“This case sends a clear signal that whenever our legal test is met, the CPS will prosecute these offences robustly.”

Do you want to respond to this article? If so, click here to submit your thoughts and they may be published in print.

Keep up-to-date with important news from your community, and access exclusive, subscriber only content online. Read a copy of your favourite newspaper on any device via the HNM App.

Learn more


This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More