David Lammy calls for police watchdog to probe 'shocking' search

David Lammy calls for police watchdog to probe 'shocking' search

July 7, 2020

Labour MP David Lammy calls for police watchdog to probe ‘shocking’ stop-and-search of black Team GB sprinter Bianca Williams

  • Shadow Justice Secretary said couple would have been ‘frightened’ by tactics
  • Sir Keir Starmer has also criticised the Met and called footage ‘uncomfortable’
  • Metropolitan Police said car ‘made off at speed’ and had blacked-out windows  

David Lammy today called for the police watchdog to investigate the ‘shocking’ stop-and-search of black team GB sprinter Bianca Williams after she and her partner were pulled over in their Mercedes and handcuffed by the Met during a hunt for weapons. 

The shadow Justice Secretary said Ms Williams, 26, and Portuguese sprinter Ricardo dos Santos, 25, would have been ‘frightened’ by the officers’ forceful tactics in the company of their three-year-old son.  

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘I found it shocking as I imagine anybody who’s seen it would have done. Shocking because anyone who’s a parent – they had a three-month-old child in the back – would instantly be frightened at being stopped and commanded out of a car in that manner.

‘This follows in a long line of things that are being captured on film that are causing huge concern with this Black Lives Matter movement. So I hope the Met will look again, think again, and perhaps this is a case for the Independent Police Complaints Commission to look at.’

Scotland Yard has insisted there is no evidence of misconduct on the part of its officers, and justified Saturday’s incident saying the car had ‘made off at speed’ and was ‘travelling on the wrong side of the road’.  

The Mercedes also had ‘blacked out windows’, which are only illegal in the UK if they let less than 70 per cent of light through.

David Lammy today said the incident was ‘frightening’ and urged the police watchdog to get involved. He is pictured here at a Labour rally 

Commonwealth gold medallist Bianca Williams, 26, and her Portuguese sprinter partner Ricardo dos Santos, 25, were stopped and searched near their London home, with their three-month-old baby on board

This is the moment the Metropolitan Police stopped and handcuffed two of Linford Christie’s athletes outside their home in London 

A photo shared on Instagram by Ms Williams of the stop and search confrontation. She is to the right of the centre of the photo, with her three-month-old son

Ms Williams and Mr Dos Santos were returning home with their son, Zuri-Li, when a van from the Met’s Territorial Support Group began to follow them. 

They had intended to leave Zuri-Li with a relative before going to a restaurant near their West London home. 

The Met said a car with ‘blacked-out windows’ made off ‘at speed’ on the wrong side of the road – although the stretch where they were stopped is only a single width.   

After they were stopped, Ms Williams could be heard saying ‘he didn’t do anything’ and adding that her son was in the car before officers told her to calm down.

The video, shared on Saturday, was captioned by Mr Christie with the note ‘racist police aren’t just in America’. 

Yesterday, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the footage should make Scotland Yard ‘uncomfortable’. He told LBC: ‘When they got to the car I didn’t really think they handled it very well at all. It was clear there was a very young child in the back.

‘The use of handcuffs is always controversial. I couldn’t actually see what the justification for that was. We will wait and see, it will be for the police to justify their actions…. But what I do know is if I was a senior officer looking at that video footage, I would feel uncomfortable about the way it was dealt with.’

The video was shared on social media by their trainer and Olympic champion Linford Christie. 

Mr Christie has demanded an explanation after footage showed how the athletes appeared to be manhandled by members of the Metropolitan Police during the stop, saying it was proof of ‘institutional racism’ within the force.

In response, Scotland Yard Commander Helen Harper said: ‘I understand the concern when incidents like this happen and how they can appear when part of it is filmed without context.

‘Due to the concern raised, we conducted a review of the stop. This included social media footage and bodyworn camera footage of the officers at the scene. We are satisfied that there are no misconduct issues.’ 

Ms Williams told the Times: ‘It’s always the same thing with Ricardo [her partner]. They think he’s driving a stolen vehicle, or he’s been smoking cannabis.’

She added: ‘It’s racial profiling. The way they spoke to Ricardo, like he was scum, dirt on their shoe, was shocking. It was awful to watch.’ 

Ms Williams has since threatened to sue the Met and urged its boss Cressida Dick to quit. In response, the force asked her and Mr Dos Santos to get in touch to ‘discuss what happened and the concerns they have’. 

Ms Williams has slammed the police for ‘racial profiling’ – though the Met insists there is no evidence of misconduct on the part of its officers

Linford Christie left a message on Twitter asking for an explanation after the athletes were stopped

Mr Christie questioned the reason behind the stop and suggested the police service were guilty of institutional racism 

The Metropolitan Police said the stop was necessary as the car ‘drove off at speed on the wrong side of the road’ and had ‘blacked out windows’ 

In a message addressed to the Met Police when the video first went viral, Mr Christie wrote: ‘Two of my athletes were stopped by the police today, both international athletes, both parents of a three-month-old baby who was with them and both handcuffed outside of their home.

‘Can Cressida Dick or anyone please explain to me what justification the Met Police officers had in assaulting the driver, taking a mother away from her baby all without one piece of PPE and then calling the sniffer dog unit to check the car over.

‘Was it the car that was suspicious or the black family in it which led to such a violent confrontation and finally an accusation of the car smelling of weed but refusing to do a roadside drug test. 

‘This is not the the first time this has happened. (second time in two months) And I’m sure it won’t be the last but this type of abuse of power and institutionalised racism cannot be justified or normalised any longer.’

The text also contained the hashtags BLM and MetPoliceRacist.

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.

The force said in a statement that a car was stopped in Lanhill Road, Maida Vale, west London, on Saturday afternoon after it was seen driving suspiciously, and a 25-year-old man and 26-year-old woman were searched.  

MailOnline has contacted the IOPC for comment.  

Linford Christie, pictured, questioned whether the car was stopped in such a manner because there was a young black family inside the vehicle

Mr Christie  asked Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick to explain what happened

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