Police marksmen who were ousted for sharing pictures of a hand puppet named 'Swoop' at their sniper post lose sexism appeal

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  • The pair posted the picture at the Hilton Garden Hotel in Glasgow during COP26

Two Met police officers sent home in disgrace from the Glasgow climate summit for sharing pictures of a hand puppet at their sniper post have lost a claim they were singled out for being English and male.

Marksmen Sergeant Richard Lovelock and PC Jonathan Sayers were among 10,000 officers sent to guard world leaders at COP26 in 2021.

But they were sent back to London during the event after Scottish police chiefs reacted with fury to a light-hearted post featuring a stuffed toy called ‘Swoop’.

In a Twitter post, officers shared a picture from their sniper post on top of the Hilton Garden Hotel, where many delegates were staying, with the puppet’s paw on a marksman’s shoulder.

A second photo showed ‘Swoop’ looking through the telescopic sight while in a third it sat in the crosshairs of a rifle.

A picture of a hand puppet called 'Swoop' (pictured) got a pair of Met Police officers into trouble

A picture of a hand puppet called ‘Swoop’ (pictured) got a pair of Met Police officers into trouble 

The marksmen posted the picture during Cop26 in Glasgow in 2021. Pictured: Swoop outside the SSE Hydro in Glasgow during the climate conference

The marksmen posted the picture during Cop26 in Glasgow in 2021. Pictured: Swoop outside the SSE Hydro in Glasgow during the climate conference

The two officers claimed they had been discriminated against on the grounds of race and sex by Police Scotland and the Met Police after posting pictures of the sock puppet

The two officers claimed they had been discriminated against on the grounds of race and sex by Police Scotland and the Met Police after posting pictures of the sock puppet

The caption said: ‘Swoop was spotted by the Metropolitan Police Rifle Team and invited to help keep a safe over watch here at COP26 #heretokeepyousafe.’

Within hours of the tweet being uploaded and ‘liked’ almost 500 times, it was flagged to Police Scotland firearms chiefs who raised concerns that it ‘compromised’ the position of a ‘covert’ observation post.

Sgt Lovelock and PC Sayers were sent back to London along with a third marksman Sgt Duncan Clarke who took ‘full responsibility’ for the post.

Lodging a tribunal claim, the pair alleged that they had been discriminated against on the grounds of race and sex by Police Scotland and the Met Police. 

They argued that no action had been taken against officers who tweeted an image of a toy dog in a police uniform sitting on the wing mirror of a police vehicle at the Scottish Police Dog Memorial.

They also highlighted that a fourth officer involved, was not sent back to her force, Bedfordshire Police.

In his ruling, Employment Judge Tim Adkin said that, based on the fact they were both Met officers, Scottish police chiefs would have known it was ‘more likely’ they were English. 

But he said there was ‘no evidence’ that Police Scotland chiefs ‘consciously thought about or discussed the claimants’ nationality at all’ when sending them back to London.

Rejecting their claim of sex discrimination, he said the reason that action against the three male officers was prioritised was because chiefs were ‘under pressure to find a rapid solution’.

One of the photos was posted from the Hilton Garden Hotel in Glasgow, where delegates were staying

One of the photos was posted from the Hilton Garden Hotel in Glasgow, where delegates were staying

Police sniper units pictured in 2013 for the visit of Barack Obama and David Cameron in Northern Ireland

Police sniper units pictured in 2013 for the visit of Barack Obama and David Cameron in Northern Ireland




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