Fundraiser tops £120,000 for police officers sacked over black athletes Bianca Williams and Ricardo dos Santos

Athletes Bianca Williams and Ricardo Dos Santos speak to the media outside Palestra House (PA) (PA Wire)
Athletes Bianca Williams and Ricardo Dos Santos speak to the media outside Palestra House (PA) (PA Wire)

More than £120,000 has been raised for two former Metropolitan Police officers sacked over the stop-and-search of Bianca Williams and Ricardo Dos Santos.

Ex-constables Jonathan Clapham and Sam Franks were dismissed without notice after a disciplinary panel found their actions during the “highly distressing” handcuffed search of black Team GB athlete Ms Williams, 29, and her partner, the Portuguese sprinter Mr Dos Santos, 28, amounted to gross misconduct.

Thousands of supporters have donated to a JustGiving crowdfunding page aiming to help Clapham and Franks at “a time of great austerity”.

The page states that the donations have been a “huge comfort” for the officers and thanks those who donated as they have “genuinely made a difference”.

It added: “Despite people’s personal views on this decision; this page has been created to solely support the officers and their families at this difficult time.

“So please refrain from airing them on this platform.”

The Independent Office for Police Conduct brought the case against five officers, saying the detention of Mr Dos Santos and Ms Williams was “because they were black” and was “excessive, unreasonable and unjustified”.

Bianca Williams and Ricardo Dos Santos outside Palestra House, central London (James Manning/PA) (PA Wire)
Bianca Williams and Ricardo Dos Santos outside Palestra House, central London (James Manning/PA) (PA Wire)

The panel found Clapham and Franks lied about smelling cannabis when they pulled over the couple in Maida Vale on July 4 2020.

Jules Carey, a solicitor at Bindmans LLP, who represents Ms Williams and Mr Dos Santos, claimed “a very significant number of the comments” on the fundraising page appeared to be written by “serving officers, police units and police associations”.

The page has now removed all comments “to respect the impending appeal”.

Messages had described the situation as “scandalous appeasement and scapegoating” and called to “stop destroying this once great police service the envy of the world”.

Mr Carey said: “Yet again it appears that loyalty is being held up by officers as a quality that should trump integrity.

“The commissioner should immediately come out to publicly support the panel’s decision and the importance of accountability in the Met if public confidence in the police stands a chance of being restored in London.”

Author Alice Vinten, a former officer, condemned the donations in a tweet which said the officers had been “dismissed for lying about smelling cannabis during a stop and search on a black couple and their baby.”

She added: “Is this what we do now? Raise money for lying cops?”

The police followed the athletes as they drove to their west London home from training with their baby son, then three months old, in the back seat of their Mercedes.

They were accused of racially profiling the couple alongside fellow Met officers Acting Police Sergeant Rachel Simpson, Pc Allan Casey and Pc Michael Bond, who were found not to have breached any standards.

The misconduct panel heard they followed Mr Dos Santos in their police carrier because of the “appalling” and “suspicious” nature of his driving and were doing their duty when they conducted the stop and search.

The couple were handcuffed and searched on suspicion of having drugs and weapons after they were pulled over outside their property, but nothing was found.

During his evidence, Mr Dos Santos accused the officers of detaining him for “DWB, driving while black”.

The hearing was told Mr Dos Santos was stopped nine times within four weeks of buying a car in 2018.

Ms Williams cried as she watched footage of Mr Dos Santos getting pulled from the driver’s seat to the roadside and handcuffed.

Earlier this year, Ms Williams won bronze in the 4x100m at the World Athletics Championships.

Mr Dos Santos competed at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, held in 2021, in the 400m.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Matt Ward said the couple “deserved better and I apologise to them for the distress they have suffered”.

He said: “Honesty and integrity are at the core of policing and, as the panel has concluded, there can be no place in the Met for officers who do not uphold these values.”

He added that the panel’s findings highlight they “still have a long way to go to earn the trust of our communities, particularly our black communities when it comes to our use of stop and search”.

Rick Prior, vice chair of the Metropolitan Police Federation representing rank-and-file officers, said: “We continue to support the two officers dismissed after Wednesday’s extremely disappointing panel findings and we have been in detailed discussions with the officers’ legal team concerning appealing the two adverse decisions.”