Gay man loses police discrimination case

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A former policeman who claims he was discriminated against for being gay has lost his case.

Ben Stokes, 23, a former member of the Nottingham Police claims he was discriminated against by his force after his sexuality was revealed when he started a relationship with a male teenager.

Sergeant Gail Hart, from Nottingham Police, told a colleague, Detective Inspector Ian Winton, to investigate the word “twink” in regards to an entry by Mr Stokes on a gay sating website, the tribunal heard.

DI Winton, head of the sexual exploitation investigation unit, advised a search after researching the word and deciding It’s a term for expressing a fondness for young people who can range from being 13 to 19.”

However, Paul Trickey, from the website, said the word represented gay men of between 18 and 23.

Indecent pictures were found in Mr Stokes’ flat, and he was suspended, although no accusations were made that Mr Stokes had knowledge of the pictures.

His role became restricted and he eventually resigned after the Crown Prosecution Service decided there was no case.

He told an employment tribunal of a visit from professional standards unit inspector Steve Payne to his flat, “Shortly after arriving at my apartment, Inspector Payne said ‘so this is the gay village of Nottingham, is it?’

“I was surprised at this because I was not used to my colleagues knowing I was gay.

“He said he felt my membership of the site was inappropriate and the disclosure of my profession on it was inappropriate. Being gay is obviously very difficult, especially when you are not out.”

But Mr Payne insisted his comments were part of “breaking down barriers and to show that I was aware of those issues and lifestyles.”

He said he had undergone “diversity training” and was familiar with lesbian and gay forums in the city.

Mr Stokes said his partner was warned against seeing him and was arrested after 12 police officers raided his flat and allegedly found suspect images under his flatmate’s bed.

The tribunal heard that the row left the complainant, who resigned from the force, feeling suicidal.

The Nottingam Employment Tribunal ruled that there was not enough evidence to prove the allegations.

A Nottinghamshire Police spokesman said: “The investigation into Mr Stokes’ conduct was launched over issues of general competence and had nothing to do with homophobia.”

Mr Stokes plans to appeal the decision.