Police officers in foul-mouthed voicemail case to keep their 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".

Following today's ruling by a West Midlands Police misconduct panel, Ms Faragher's solicitor said she was "disappointed" with the outcome.

During the hearing Pc Guest accepted making the comments about the young woman 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 for 12 years, earning several commendations for bravery, said his remarks were borne out 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.

The panel today ruled Pc Guest's actions amounted to misconduct but fell short of the higher level of gross misconduct.

Pc Guest, originally from Chasetown in Staffordshire, was handed a final written warning which will remain on his file for 18 months.

Panel chairman Assistant Chief Constable Marcus Beale said his actions in making 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 51-year-old 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 the father of three's actions in not challenging his colleague were a "serious omission" but again amounted to misconduct.

The police officer of 12 years' service was handed a written warning to stay on file for a year.

Mr Beale said the panel acknowledged the impact of the words used, saying "they were dreadful and will inevitably have caused distress".

He added: "We hope she will be reassured through this process that West Midlands Police considers such behaviour unacceptable".

The two faced a lesser allegation of failing to make sure Ms Faragher had properly read her statement before she signed each page but the panel found the facts "not proven".

Speaking after the hearing, Ms Faragher's solicitor Matthew McConville, of DPP Law, said: "She's disappointed.

"We've got an outcome but now have to assess whether to take it to a further civil claim."

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."

Mr 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 was "in the cut and thrust of a busy shift where not challenging your colleague about everything that is said might happen".