Met Police officer dismissed over sex act on Tinder date minutes after they met in Harpenden park

 (Shutterstock / Ink Drop)
(Shutterstock / Ink Drop)

A Metropolitan Police officer who forced a Tinder date to touch his privates within minutes of meeting her in a park would have been dismissed had he not resigned.

Off-duty DC Thomas Hartill, based in Brent, and the woman hooked up on the internet dating site and agreed to see each other in person on June 17 last year.

The pair consensually kissed several times and held hands during a walk around 56-acre Rothamsted Park, close to Harpenden town centre.

But a misconduct hearing heard after sitting on a bench, Hartill twice placed her hand under his shorts and on his genitals, which she did not consent to.

The couple then went for drive together in Ms A’s car. Hartill exposed his erect penis and invited her to touch it, saying “Go on!”.

The furious woman refused to continue the date and dropped him off near the local Hertfordshire Police station and went home.

The next day when she spoke to her friend, she said: “I think I was sexually assaulted last night.”

Ms A sounded “very upset and like she had been crying”, the friend told a hearing headed by Christopher McKay, an independent legally qualified chair.

She now freezes if she hears a police car siren and has since received counselling, partly due to Hartill’s behaviour.

The disgraced officer, who only joined the Met a year ago and was attached to the north west command, denied all allegations but the panel found discreditable conduct proven to a level of gross misconduct.

Hartill, who did not attend the hearing and resigned in December, submitted photos purportedly of Ms A naked and in a bikini claiming she had sent them to him.

In interview, he alleged this demonstrated “how keen she was on pursuing a relationship”.

New Scotland Yard, the headquarters of the Metropolitan Police Service, in London (PA Wire)
New Scotland Yard, the headquarters of the Metropolitan Police Service, in London (PA Wire)

Ms A’s denied this and the panel found Hartill had “probably” accessed her Facebook account for images she’d taken on holiday. The nude picture was of someone else.

Her evidence was persuasive and accepted as true, it was concluded.

Mr McKay, sitting with Superintendent Beth Pirie and independent panel member David Scott, found: “DC Hartill’s behaviour towards Ms A was deliberate.

“He was seeking sexual gratification. His attempts to involve Ms A in sexual activity were repeated over an hour or so despite her reluctance.

“There is national concern about police officers exploiting female members of the public.

“There are no mitigating factors in this case.”

He added: “The panel has decided that disciplinary action is justified because of the seriousness of the misconduct.

“Although this is the first time Hartill has been found to have been guilty of misconduct, he had only been a police officer for a year.

“Gross misconduct by Hartill involving sexual impropriety has led the panel to the conclusion that had he remained a serving police officer Hartill would have been dismissed.”