Elite firearms officer sues Metropolitan Police for disability discrimination

MoJA former member of an elite firearms unit is suing his police force for discrimination after a high-speed motorbike accident left him with severe mental injuries.

PC Finlay Buchan, formerly of the elite Diplomatic Protection Group (SO6), is suing the Metropolitan Police for disability discrimination after he claimed that the police force made him a “scapegoat” for the accident and claims that reasonable adjustments were not made to accommodate his injuries.

The police officer, who has been employed by the Metropolitan Police since 1995, is claiming that the nature and the application of the Metropolitan Police’s attendance management procedures constituted disability discrimination.

PC Buchan was responding to an emergency call from a fellow SO6 officer on 21 December 2012 when the brakes “locked” on his police bake and he suffered a debilitating high-speed crash. He suffered physical injuries in the crash but also suffered serious mental trauma, and was later diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”) in October 2014.

The 40-year-old police officer told the Central London Employment Tribunal that he had been told by senior officers that, less than six months after the accident, he would have to “get [his] arse back to work” or face being fired. PC Buchan stated that this incident reduced him to tears and that he had received no treatment for PTSD nor any other form of psychological counselling since the accident.

PC Buchan claimed in evidence that he had been repeatedly blamed for the accident and pressured to return to work despite his psychological injuries. He also claimed that the Metropolitan Police had tried to “twist and distort the evidence” relating to the crash, that senior officers had tried to make him a “scapegoat for a faulty bike”, and that he had been threatened in October 2013 with having his sick pay reduced by half. PC Buchan stated in his witness statement: “It seems to me that because I did not have any major physical injuries, my management felt that I should be back at work quickly and failed to recognise the mental impact and severity of the accident. The evidence of the mental impact was before them in my condition in the weeks and months following [the crash] and also in the medical evidence.”

PC Buchan’s line manager, Sergeant Peter Tyson, told the Central London Employment Tribunal that PC Buchan’s absence from work was dealt with “in accordance with the Met’s procedures, which I did in as supportive a manner as I could.”

Chris Hadrill, a specialist employment solicitor at Redmans, commented on the case: “Employers should be careful to put in place procedures that do not discriminate against disabled employees and to ensure that those procedures are properly and fairly applied. A failure to create non-discriminatory policies or to apply these policies in a fair manner can potentially lead to a time-consuming and expensive Employment Tribunal claim.”

The Metropolitan Police is contesting PC Buchan’s claims.

The Employment Tribunal concluded last week with the Employment Tribunal reserving judgment in the matter until a later date.