Police constable Shahid Shah has won a fight to keep his job after being caught out posting an image of the Israeli Prime Minister superimposed on Adolf Hitler. “Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis” is explicitly specified as antisemitic according to the definition of antisemitism used by the UK College of Policing.
Shah apologised and admitted that he had breached professional standards, but his lawyer, Julian King, successfully argued that he should merely receive a formal written warning and take part in diversity and social media training.
According to the Manchester Evening News, Shah posted the image during a debate on Facebook in a private group for police officers. The image superimposed an image of Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu on a picture of Hitler pointing at a map with Nazi colleagues. The debate apparently turned antisemitic, with one officer commenting to ask whether the “execution of six million Jews is OK too?”
Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan told the disciplinary hearing: “He did cause offence to members of the Jewish community, failed to show initially that he accepted what he had done was wrong and showed he had failed to learn lessons from a previous warning about what he had posted on Facebook.” The hearing also heard that Shah “only apologised when he was interviewed” about the post.
Shah responded: “If this has caused people upset, I’m sorry. It was never my intention to offend, only to prompt debate about the situation in Gaza. I saw innocent women and children being killed and wounded and I wanted people to think long and hard about the situation.”
Shah’s lawyer told the hearing that the Professional Standards Branch of Greater Manchester Police had initially recommended the PC should face misconduct rather rather gross misconduct proceedings, which would have meant that he could not be dismissed, however Assistant Chief Constable Shewan overruled the decision and instigated gross misconduct proceedings which could result in dismissal.
The chair of the hearing panel said that Shah had made an “early admission, apologised in his interview and accepted it was an error of judgment.”
We commend Assistant Chief Constable Shewan for his decision to overrule the decision of the Professional Standards Branch to merely bring misconduct proceedings, however many Jews will feel that they have been failed this disciplinary process.