The Metropolitan police have been accused of withholding the fact that a racist fanatic prosecuted for stockpiling illegal weapons was one of their own officers.
According to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), officers failed to disclose in a prosecution dossier that Ellis Hammond was a serving police community support officer (PCSO) after he had been found with a cache of arms including a CS spray, a stun gun, combat knives, a knuckleduster and a replica AK-47. He was also a member of the far-right British National party (BNP) and had a collection of racist literature.
Hammond, who had lied about his BNP membership on joining the police, was given a conditional discharge after pleading guilty to two firearms charges when he appeared at Bexley magistrates’ court in March. After his arrest in December last year he was also permitted to resign his post rather than face disciplinary procedures.
Largely because Hammond’s connections with the police were not publicised, the court case was not attended by any media. The Sunday Times did, however, report on the case shortly afterwards and the lightness of the sentence given out to Hammond led to further inquiries being made by the Independent Advisory Group, which oversees the force’s handling of race issues.
In a letter to an IAG member, Nazir Afzal, the director of the CPS for south London, confirmed: “The prosecutor presented all the relevant information available at the time to the magistrates’ court. This did not include any reference to the fact that the defendant was a PCSO at the time of the offences as those details were not disclosed on the prosecution file when submitted to the CPS by the police.”
A CPS spokeswoman added: “We would have used the information if we had had it. It is fair to say it would have been helpful.”
A member of Hammond’s family said: “The Met have been very good about this. They gave Ellis the option to resign, which was good because if he had been dismissed it would have been on his CV. There were people from the Met at court to support him, which was nice too.”
The matter has now become the subject of an internal police investigation. Although a CPS lawyer was told of Hammond’s police role at the time of his being charged, that fact was apparently later omitted from the prosecution file, which was processed by a different CPS official. A Met spokesman said: “We are aware of the CPS’s comments and are looking at the issues involved. But we did inform them prior to the trial that he [Hammond] had been a PCSO at the time of the offences being committed.”