Sprinter Bianca Williams considering suing Met Police over ‘racial profiling’

Sprinter Bianca Williams considering suing Met Police over 'racial profiling'

Bianca Williams

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Getty Images

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Bianca Williams won European and Commonwealth gold in the 4x100m relay in 2018

A Team GB sprinter is considering suing the Metropolitan Police after accusing officers of racially profiling her and her partner in a stop and search.

Bianca Williams and Ricardo dos Santos, a Portuguese 400m runner, were stopped in Maida Vale on Saturday.

Ms Williams, whose three-month-old son was in the car at the time, called it an “awful experience”.

The Met said officers were patrolling the area because of an increase in youth violence.

But the European and Commonwealth Games gold medallist believes the couple were targeted because they are black and drive a Mercedes.

“They [the officers] said there’s a lot of youth violence and stabbings in the area and that the car looked very suspicious,” she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“They see a black male driving a nice car, an all-black car, and they assume that he was involved in some sort of gang, drug, violence problem.”

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Media captionBianca Williams ‘hurt’ after she and partner were stopped by police

Footage of the stop was shared widely on Twitter after being posted by former Olympic 100m champion Linford Christie, who questioned why the vehicle had been targeted.

The Met said a 25-year-old man and a 26-year-old woman were searched when a car was stopped in Lanhill Road.

‘Getting ridiculous’

In a statement on Sunday evening the Met said the Mercedes was stopped after it was seen driving suspiciously, including being on the wrong side of the road, and that the driver had sped off when asked to stop.

But this was rejected by Ms Williams, who said: “That is false, we were never on the wrong side of the road. We were driving down through single-width roads.

“We only found out about us driving on the wrong side of the road once they tweeted.

“This isn’t the first or fourth or fifth time, it must be about the 10th. It’s getting ridiculous.

“We are planning on taking it down the legal route. I feel very hurt by their actions, and to witness my partner being taken away and for me to be taken away from my son, my heart hurts.”

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EPA

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Mr Dos Santos and Ms Williams say police handcuffed them while their son was in the car

Speaking at a House of Commons Human Rights Committee hearing earlier, Baroness Lawrence said it was “ludicrous” that black people could not drive around in expensive cars.

“Stop and search will continue to be an element young people go through on a day-to-day basis,” said the campaigner, whose murdered son was failed by an “institutionally racist” Met Police.

“And when they are stopped, it is not just one officer or two officers, you have six or seven officers standing around one individual, a young person who is probably frightened to death because he doesn’t know what is going to happen to him.

“So if now people have mobile phones and start recording what is happening to them, we have the issues where police say it is one thing and the individual says it’s another, and the authority believes the police over the individual.

“That is something that continues to happen.”

The Met said officers from the Directorate of Professional Standards had reviewed footage from social media and officers’ bodycams and were satisfied there was no concern around the officers’ conduct during the stop and search of the two athletes.

London mayor Sadiq Khan said he took allegations of racial profiling “extremely seriously” and he had raised the case with the Met.

The Independent Office for Police Complaints said it has not yet received an official complaint.

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