A police officer appeared on the Nigerian Big Brother as she wanted to “promote the Met Police” globally, a misconduct tribunal heard.
Hours before going on the show, PC Khafilat Kareem called one of the Met’s most senior officers asking him to reverse an order for her not to do so.
She lasted 77 days in the Big Brother Naija house before being evicted.
The Met said she went on the programme “without authority”. The force is carrying out a misconduct hearing.
At the hearing at the Empress Building in west London on Monday, PC Kareem admitted she took and surrendered her laptop to the show’s organisers.
But she denied allegations of breaching standards in respect of “orders and instructions” and “discreditable conduct”.
PC Kareem also denied an allegation she failed to declare a business interest in relation to publicity and promotion of the TV show.
PC Kareem, who has over 1.4m followers on Instagram, asked for unpaid leave in 2019 to appear on the show as she saw it as “as a chance to promote the Met on an international basis”, the panel was told.
However, line managers felt it was not within the best interests of the officer or the force.
Anne Studd QC, for the Met Police, told the tribunal: “Having seen the UK episodes of the show, concerns were raised.
“But, PC Kareem said Naija was not like the UK version. She saw it as a chance to promote the Met on an international basis.
“Looking at the website and information provided, Ch Supt Jason Gwillim concluded it was not in the best interests of the Met or the officer and it would put her in a compromising situation.
“He explained the rationale and stressed she was not to take part in the show.
“Gwillim’s impression was that PC Kareem was disappointed but understood. She took the period of unpaid leave.”
Only your Votes can keep Khafi in the #BBNaija House. Voting closes on Thursday night. Vote now!— Big Brother Naija (@BBNaija) August 12, 2019
Although permission for the leave was granted – she was told not to take part in any further auditions, interviews or shows, the hearing was told.
On 30 June, PC Kareem texted Deputy Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist and later called him to say that she had travelled to Lagos to take part in the show.
Mr Twist told the tribunal in west London that he had “never been faced with these circumstances before” and felt it was “most unusual” a PC was contacting someone of his rank on a weekend.
He explained he was aware of previous decisions to refuse PC Kareem’s request to go on the TV show and said he wasn’t in a position to review any decision on a Sunday.
Mr Twist said: “I got the impression she was phoning hoping I would change the decision.
“I got the fact she was in Nigeria I got the strong sense she was going to do it, but she did not say as much.”
Mr Twist said his core concerns were over PC Kareem’s mental health, the Met’s public image and her conduct within the house.
“I was worried about her mental health, we have no ability to support or intervene in the Big Brother house.
“We had no idea what security was in place around the Big Brother house and something awful could happen there or she could be targeted as a serving constable.
“Over the years a number of people who come out of the Big Brother house are reported in the media to have suffered mental health issues.
“Knowing the UK version, this is something we wouldn’t want a serving officer appearing on.”
After being evicted in September 2019, PC Kareem became upset at inaccurate articles and wanted to “tell her side of the story”.
PC Kareem saw a psychologist after the show due to the “adverse” media attention, the tribunal heard.
The tribunal heard she was invited to appear on Good Morning Britain – but was told not to do any unauthorised media interviews.
The tribunal continues.
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