Met Police sergeant, 48, who grabbed a junior female colleague and kissed her is demoted but avoids being kicked out of the force
A Metropolitan Police sergeant who grabbed the face of a female colleague and kissed her has been demoted.
There were calls for George Panayi to be sacked after accusations of persistent inappropriate behaviour including kissing a junior colleague, pinching her cheek and stopping the bathroom door from being closed when she was inside.
A misconduct hearing heard how on December 21, 2019 Sgt Panayi began showing his female junior colleague pictures of women on his phone saying: ‘I’m dating them because you are not available’.
A Metropolitan Police sergeant who grabbed the face of a female colleague and kissed her has been demoted. A stock image is used above [File photo]
He then proceeded to grab her face with both hands so she ‘couldn’t move’ and kissed her on the cheek while she sat in the driver’s seat of a police van.
The woman said she and a fellow officer in the van ‘looked at each other in shock’ adding that she was left feeling ‘like a fish out of water’ and that the unwanted act was ‘offensive, demeaning, horrifying’.
The panel decided the kiss was not sexually motivated but was unacceptable behaviour, particularly as the officer was trapped in the police van and could not avoid the unsolicited kiss.
The court also heard that on February 3, 2020, Sgt Panayi pinched the same officer on the cheek while she was restraining a mental health patient who was attempting to self harm.
He explained that he did this as a playful gesture to indicate to the patient that the officer was a nice person. The court found this defence was not credible and that again he had failed to treat his colleague with respect.
The panel decided the kiss was not sexually motivated but was unacceptable behaviour, particularly as the officer was trapped in the police van and could not avoid the unsolicited kiss. New Scotland Yard is pictured above
Sgt Panayi faced a third accusation that six days later he followed opened the door to the female toilets while his junior colleague was inside.
She said she was removing her belt when he opened the door and placed his foot in the doorway stopping it from being closed, before laughing and walking off.
‘This was becoming a pattern. My fear was that other things were going to happen,’ she said. After making the allegations the officer reported facing ‘stigma’ in the workplace adding that some colleagues supported her decision whilst others did not.
After hearing the evidence a panel decide his actions were not planned and were not part of a targeted campaign against his junior colleague. However, it found he breached standards of authority, respect and courtesy by abusing his power.
His actions were considered misconduct, but not judged to be gross misconduct which would warrant a dismissal. Sgt Panayi, who was already on a final written warning, has instead had his rank reduced.