Met Police apologise to philosophy lecturer who was ridiculed during strip search

The Met has finally apologised to a university lecturer after officers used ‘sexist, derogatory and unacceptable language’ when they strip searched her.

The force will also pay Dr Konstancja Duff compensation for the horrific way she was treated at Stoke Newington police station in north-east London.

It comes as shocking footage was released showing staff calling her ‘rank’, discussing her ‘smelly knickers’ and the amount of hair on her body.

The custody sergeant said ‘treat her like a terrorist’ and search her ‘by any means necessary’ during the incident in May 2013.

Dr Duff, an assistant professor of philosophy at Nottingham University, had been arrested after she intervened in the arrest of a 15-year-old boy.

She tried to hand him a card listing his legal rights and told him to give a ‘no comment’ interview.

The teenager, who has not been named, was later found to have a six-inch knife in his sock in May 2013.

And Dr Duff, who was studying for a masters at the Royal College of Music at the time, was arrested on suspicion of obstructing police.

The force will also pay Dr Konstancja Duff (pictured) compensation for the horrific way she was treated at Stoke Newington police station in north-east London

Shocking footage was released showing staff calling Dr Duff 'rank', discussing her 'smelly knickers' and the amount of hair on her body

Shocking footage was released showing staff calling Dr Duff ‘rank’, discussing her ‘smelly knickers’ and the amount of hair on her body

Footage, obtained by the lecturer and released to the Guardian today, shows Sgt Kurtis Howard – who was in charge of the custody area – ordering her search.

He told officers to show her ‘resistance is futile’ and to search her ‘by any means necessary’. He added: ‘Treat her like a terrorist. I don’t care.’

Meanwhile Dr Duff was bound by three female officers in a cell, before being pinned down and having her clothes ripped off with scissors.

After the search, they walked into the reception room before a policeman said: ‘Didn’t find anything untoward on her, ladies?’

One of the women said: ‘A lot of hair.’ Another of the officers laughed. Two policemen went through her stuff, with one saying: ‘Sorry, sorry, what’s that smell?’ 

His co-worker said: ‘Oh, it’s her knickers, yeah?’ A female officer entered the room and said: ‘Ugh, I feel disgusting; I’m going to need a shower.’

A man from the force hit back: ‘You need defumigating.’ One of the women said: ‘Is she rank?’

Insp Andy O'Donnell, from the Met's directorate of professional standards, told Dr Duff: 'I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely and unreservedly apologise for the sexist, derogatory and unacceptable language used about you'

Insp Andy O’Donnell, from the Met’s directorate of professional standards, told Dr Duff: ‘I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely and unreservedly apologise for the sexist, derogatory and unacceptable language used about you’

The Met will also pay Dr Duff compensation for the horrific way she was treated at Stoke Newington police station (pictured) in northeast London

The Met will also pay Dr Duff compensation for the horrific way she was treated at Stoke Newington police station (pictured) in northeast London

The female officer said: ‘No, she’s not actually.’ Another policeman replied: ‘She is, her clothes stink.’ The woman added: ‘Is it? Her body isn’t.’

Dr Duff said today: ‘There was such a barrage of misinformation that they put out that I actually, even though I was there and I knew that it was false, had almost started to doubt myself.

‘It was such an effective gaslighting: ”We were just concerned for your mental health, that was why we had to – for your own good – forcibly strip you naked and mash you up”.

‘It was so obviously not what they were doing at the time. They were doing it as punishment, they were doing it as intimidation, they wanted to soften me up and get my details.’

Police originally claimed they acted with professionalism after the philosophy professor refused to give her name.

Howard was cleared of gross misconduct by a disciplinary panel in 2018 after claiming his actions were needed to asses any risk she posed to herself.

The Met has not said where any other officers have been probed but said claims against individual officers have been put to the professional standards directorate.

The force has issued an apology and will compensate her following her civil case against them.

Insp Andy O’Donnell, from the Met’s directorate of professional standards, told her: ‘I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely and unreservedly apologise for the sexist, derogatory and unacceptable language used about you and for any upset and distress this may have caused.

‘I hope that settlement of this claim and this recognition of the impact of what happened that day will enable you to put this incident behind you.’

A spokesman for the Met told MailOnline: ‘In November 2021, the Met settled a claim following the arrest of a woman in Hackney in May 2013.

‘We have sincerely apologised to the complainant for the language used while she was in custody and any distress caused.

‘Following the conclusion of the civil claim, allegations of misconduct relating to these comments were referred to our Directorate of Professional Standards and are currently being investigated. This investigation remains ongoing.’


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