- Commander Julian Bennett has has been suspended on full pay since July 2021
- He was found to have failed to provide a sample for a drugs test in July 2020
A senior Metropolitan Police officer – who drew up an anti-drugs strategy for the force – is facing the sack for refusing to provide a sample when he was accused of smoking cannabis.
Commander Julian Bennett, who has served in the force since 1976, was cleared by a disciplinary panel of using the drug at home in late 2019.
However he was found to have failed to provide a urine sample for a drugs test on July 21 2020 and has been suspended on full pay since this time period.
His former flatmate Sheila Gomes claimed Mr Bennett had used the illicit substance daily before breakfast and leaving for work at New Scotland Yard, but the three-person panel rejected that allegation.
The panel also rejected an allegation that he had given an explanation for refusing a sample which he ‘knew to be untrue’.
After Ms Gomes reported Mr Bennett in July 2020, he was called in and, in the presence of an assistant commissioner, was asked to provide a sample. He offered to resign on the spot instead.
Mark Ley-Morgan KC, representing the Metropolitan Police, said it would have smacked of ‘organised corruption at the highest level’ if Mr Bennett had been allowed to resign on the spot.
The senior officer said he had been taking CBD (cannabidiol) to treat facial palsy and was worried the sample would come up positive for an innocent reason.
During the tribunal in Southwark, south London, Mr Bennett’s lawyer John Beggs KC branded Ms Gomes a ‘liar’ and a ‘fantasist’ who he said wanted to write a book about the claims and make money.
The tribunal also heard Ms Gomes was engaged in litigation about another matter and had litigated in Portugal, where she was born.
Mr Beggs also claimed she was being inconsistent by claiming she had seen a newspaper cutting mentioning Mr Bennett that did not refer to his work and said she had given an inconsistent account about whether the senior officer was smoking cannabis ‘from day one’ on moving in.
By failing to provide the sample, Mr Bennett was found to have breached force standards for honesty and integrity, orders and instructions and discreditable conduct. His actions were found to have amounted to gross misconduct.
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 drug misuse, the figures showed.
Allegations that he took magic mushrooms on holiday in France and LSD at a party were dismissed as hearsay by the panel during the summer’s tribunal hearing.
Those claims were made by Hugo Pereria, who lived with the complainant Sheila Gomes and Mr Bennett in late 2019, but the tribunal was told he ‘always lied’ before the panel threw out the claims.