Team GB sprinter ‘considering legal action against Met’ after stop and search
Commonwealth Games gold medallist Bianca Williams called it an ‘awful experience’.
A Team GB sprinter is considering legal action against the Metropolitan Police after accusing officers of racially profiling her and her partner in a stop and search.
Commonwealth Games gold medallist Bianca Williams and her partner, Ricardo dos Santos, a Portuguese 400m sprinter, were stopped in west London on Saturday.
Ms Williams, whose three-month-old son was in the car during the incident, called it an “awful experience” and believes the couple were targeted because they are black and drive a Mercedes.
“They see a black male driving a nice car, an all-black car, and they assume that he was involved in some sort of gang, drug, violence problem.”
Scotland Yard said a 25-year-old man and a 26-year-old woman were searched when a car was stopped in Lanhill Road, Maida Vale, on Saturday afternoon.
Nothing was found following a search of the vehicle, the man and the woman, according to the force, which said officers were patrolling the area in response to an increase in violence involving weapons.
The force said the vehicle was stopped after it was seen driving suspiciously, including on the wrong side of the road, and that the driver had sped off when asked to stop.
But this account was rejected by Ms Williams, who said the car was “never” on the wrong side of the road.
“We only found out about us driving on the wrong side of the road once they tweeted in on Saturday afternoon.
“This isn’t the first or fourth or fifth time – it must be about the 10th (her partner has been stopped by police), it’s getting ridiculous.”
She said “Yes, 100%” race is the reason why he gets stopped, adding: “It’s just horrible, it’s an outrageous assumption for them to make.
“We are planning on taking it down the legal route. I feel very hurt by their actions, and to witness my partner being taken away and for me to be taken away from my son, my heart hurts.
“It’s an awful experience.”
Scotland Yard said officers from the Directorate of Professional Standards have reviewed footage from social media and officers’ bodycams and were satisfied there was no concern around the officers’ conduct.
London mayor Sadiq Khan said he takes allegations of racial profiling “extremely seriously” and that he has raised the case with the force.
In a statement responding to the incident, he said: “It is absolutely vital that our police service retains the trust and confidence of the communities it serves so that every Londoner, regardless of background or postcode can feel safe, protected and served.”
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, when asked about the incident and that the UK is a racist nation during a visit to Goole, said: “I don’t think that is true. I think that the UK has made incredible progress just in my lifetime.
“But that doesn’t mean we’ve done enough and we’ve got to keep doing better and we’ve got to keep addressing people’s feelings that they face discrimination and prejudice.”
Footage of the incident was shared widely on Twitter after being posted by former Olympic medallist Linford Christie, who questioned why the vehicle had been stopped.
The clip appeared to show two people – a man and a woman – being pulled out of a car in a London street.
The woman says “He didn’t do anything” and officers can later be heard telling the woman to calm down after she worries about her son remaining in the car.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said he could see no justification for the use of handcuffs during the incident.
“I’ve looked at the video footage, the video footage only deals with what happens when the officers are at the car so I can’t say what happened before,” he told LBC radio.
“When they got to the car I didn’t really think they handled it very well at all because it was clear there was a very young child in the back and the use of handcuffs is always controversial and I couldn’t see what the justification for that was.
“I don’t know what led to the stop in the first place but what I do know is that if I was a senior officer looking at that video footage I would feel uncomfortable about the way that it was dealt with.”