A Metropolitan Police commander who was responsible for writing the force’s current drug strategy is facing dismissal for allegedly taking drugs while on holiday in France.
Commander Julian Bennett penned the drug strategy titled ‘Dealing with the impact of drugs on communities’, which included plans to raise “awareness of the dangers of drug misuse”.
He is claimed to have taken three drugs – cannabis, LSD and magic mushrooms – between the period of February 2019 and July 2020.
He also allegedly refused to give a drug sample on July 21, 2020, after he was told that there was “reasonable cause” to suspect he had taken cannabis. He claimed that he had used CBD to help with a medical condition – a claim that the Met Police allege he “knew to be untrue”, Sky News reports.
The evidence submitted to an investigation into the accusations reportedly includes a photo sent via WhatsApp that appeared to show cannabis on a table.
However, Bennett’s lawyers have argued that they did not receive all the messages, emails and texts they had requested from the prosecution, including a year’s worth of material from one witness. John Beggs, who is representing Bennett, added that witnesses may have “cherry-picked” which messages they had disclosed.
Mark Ley-Morgan QC, who is representing the police force, said all relevant material had been disclosed.
A hearing was due to take place this week, however hearing chairman James Tunbridge adjourned proceedings on Monday and said: “It might just not be doable to do this hearing this week.”
Bennett, who previously oversaw the dismissal of two other officers for drug misuse, has been suspended on full pay since July 2021. He was the commander for territorial policing for five years, between 2017 and 2021. He also was in charge of 74 misconduct hearings between June 2010 and February 2012, from which 56 officers were dismissed.