Police officers in foul-mouthed voicemail case will keep jobs


Two experienced police officers who were involved in leaving a foul-mouthed voicemail for an alleged domestic abuse victim, calling her a "slag", will keep their jobs, a misconduct panel has ruled.

Constables Christopher Guest and Cavan O'Connell were found to have failed to uphold professional standards over the voicemail left on Alex Faragher's mobile phone in which she was called a "****ing bitch", and a "****ing slag".

Pc Guest accepted making the comments in an inadvertent recording on the evening of January 13, 2014, as he sat chatting in a car with his colleague.

The 36-year-old, who has been with the force ten years earning several commendations for bravery, said his remarks were borne of "frustration", and never meant for Ms Faragher's ears.

He has since apologised, telling her he was "truly sorry" for his "ranting" voice message.

In a ruling by a West Midlands Police misconduct panel today, Pc Guest's actions were found to amount to misconduct but fell short of the higher level of gross misconduct.

The decision means, at most, he is facing a final written warning rather than a sacking.

Giving the ruling at a hearing in Birmingham, misconduct panel chairman assistant chief constable Marcus Beale said the voicemail comments fell "substantially below what is expected of a West Midlands Police officer".

However, he added: "The panel assess that the breach does not require full range of sanctions, and that it amounts to misconduct."

His colleague Pc O'Connell, also a response officer on the busy Birmingham North patch, was before the panel for failing to pull up Pc Guest over his "unacceptable" comments.

The panel found his actions in not challenging his colleague were a "serious omission" but again amounted to misconduct.

Both men now face, at worst, being handed a final written warning of 18 months duration with a decision on that sanction being made later.

The two also faced a lesser allegation of failing to make sure Ms Faragher had properly read her statement before she signed each page.

Panel chairman Mr Beale said this specific allegation was found "not proven".

Presenting the case yesterday Alison Hewitt, counsel for the force's professional standard's department, said: "Both officers attended a 999 call reporting a domestic violence incident, attending at an address just after 4.30pm.

"The complainant, the woman, who telephoned 999 was Alex Faragher.

"The officers agreed that they would return later to take a statement from her.

"But in a phone call made to her later that evening, in accordance with the allegations, there was an inadvertent recording of them talking about her in disparaging terms."

Described by colleagues as "conscientious, diligent, and knowledgeable", Pc Guest told Ms Faragher yesterday: "I am truly sorry for the recording left on your phone and I'm sorry for the way it made you feel."

He added: "I've been a police officer for nearly 12 years.

"It's totally against my principles.

"I'm proud to be a police officer, and I'm totally sorry."

Pc Guest went on: "I appreciate the damage it has done to the West Midlands Police force, and for that I am truly sorry."

Lawyer Brian Dean, for Pc O'Connell, said the words said were "not very appealing", adding "it's rather unsavoury but it was said in private and not meant to have any effect, or intended to have any effect, and it was foolish".

He added the context of the conversation were "in the cut and thrust of a busy shift where not challenging your colleague about everything is said might happen."