Police Commander behind Anti-Drugs strategy admits daily Cannabis use

Police Commander behind Anti-Drugs strategy admits daily Cannabis use

Mr Bennett wrote the force’s drugs strategy for 2017-21 as a commander for territorial policing.

A senior police officer who wrote an anti-drugs strategy for the Metropolitan Police allegedly took LSD and magic mushrooms while off duty and smoked cannabis daily, a tribunal has heard.

Commander Julian Bennett, who has served in the force since 1976, is alleged to have smoked cannabis before breakfast and had regular parties at his flat in 2019.

He is also accused of failing to provide a urine sample for testing and lying about why he had not done so.

Mark Ley-Morgan KC, representing the Metropolitan Police, told the tribunal in Southwark, south London: “In about mid-October 2019 Sheila Gomes moved into the officer’s flat, staying until about Christmas 2019.

“Between November 27 and 10 December 2019, she sent [her friend] Mario a WhatsApp message in which she referred to Commander Bennett … smoking cannabis at the flat.

“Shortly before 10am on 7 December 2019, she used her mobile phone to take photographs of a bag of cannabis, cigarette paper, tobacco and lighters lying on a glass table in the flat living room.

“She moved out just before Christmas that year.

“On 17 July 2020, she telephoned the Metropolitan Police to record that Commander Bennett had been smoking cannabis before work.”

Ms Gomes told the hearing under questioning from Mr Ley-Morgan: “It would start early in the morning, before breakfast and before he would leave and go to work.

“Sometimes when he was arriving at home it was there. I never saw him eat before going to work.”

She said she believed he was a lawyer rather than a senior police officer until after she stopped living with him.

Ms Gomes added that she had never seen him in uniform.

The nurse went on: “I didn’t like it at all. Why did I have to live in a place where it was just cannabis in the air, I was just trying to breathe oxygen.

“He [the officer] was the one who was using the cannabis, I will say a few times during the day he would bring it in.

“If he would go to work [he would do it] at least before going to work and arriving at home.”

Mr Ley-Morgan said a drugs test was authorised on 20 July 2020, and a day later, in the presence of an assistant commissioner, Mr Bennett was asked to provide a sample.

It was “made clear” the order to give a sample was a lawful order but Mr Bennett refused and said he would resign, the tribunal heard.

He told officers he had been taking CBD (cannabidiol) to treat facial palsy and was worried the sample would come up positive for an innocent reason, the tribunal heard.

The hearing was told the allegations about magic mushrooms and LSD are “hearsay” that Ms Gomes was told by a housemate of hers and the officers.

Mr Ley-Morgan said Mr Bennett’s explanation for not providing a sample was “nonsensical” as it would have come up with a much lower reading if it was not being used recreationally.

Mr Bennett wrote the force’s drugs strategy for 2017-21 as a commander for territorial policing.

The document, called Dealing With The Impact Of Drugs On Communities, set up plans to raise “awareness of the impact of drug misuse”.

Freedom of information requests showed Mr Bennett presided over 74 police misconduct hearings involving 90 officers between June 2010 and February 2012.

Out of the hearings involving Mr Bennett, 56 officers were dismissed – more than three-quarters.

He chaired 69 hearings during that time and two officers were dismissed for drugs misuse, the figures showed.

Mr Bennett is accused of breaching the force’s professional standards for discreditable conduct three times, honesty and integrity twice and orders and instructions once.

His actions are alleged to have amounted to gross misconduct.

He denies the allegations and has been suspended on full pay since July 2021.

The tribunal continues.

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Region: United Kingdom