A police officer who called a bisexual man a “fag” while arresting him has kept his job after he said he has “gay friends”.
Daniel Wiffen, a police officer in Merseyside, was recorded calling a man a “skinny f**king fag” on his own body camera during an arrest in May 2020.
In a complaint to the Professional Standards Department (PSD), the man – referred to as Mr A – said he was bisexual and he found the slur offensive.
However, an independent disciplinary panel ruled this week that Wiffen was “not homophobic” and that he only used the anti-gay slur due to frustration following a stressful arrest, according to the Liverpool Echo.
Wiffen used the slur after visiting a scene outside the Shrewsbury Lodge Hotel in Oxton on 8 May last year, where Mr A and a second man were drunk and had caused a disturbance.
Mr A reportedly became violent and aggressive when Wiffen started questioning the second man, who was shouting foul language and was intoxicated.
The disciplinary panel heard that Mr A removed his traced and “assumed a fighting stance” and told police officers: “F**k off you c**ts.”
Wiffen and his colleague took Mr A to the ground due to his “escalating, aggressive behaviour” as he continued “shouting and screaming” about “Nazi governments”.
After placing Mr A in the back of a police van, Wiffen told his colleague: “You just need to keep an eye on him cos the cuffs keep slipping off cos this skinny f**king fag”.
Mr A heard the comment and was upset by it. Wiffen claimed he didn’t recall using the slur, but his body cam footage had recorded the comment.
Police officer admitted he knew ‘fag’ was an offensive word
Wiffen told the disciplinary panel that it “tore him apart” when he was realised he had used the slur, saying it was not in line with his own values.
The police officer denied having ever used the slur before and said he understood that a gay or bisexual person would be offended by the word.
The panel also heard that Mr A and the second man had used the homophobic slur themselves while drunkenly shouting on the street prior to their arrest.
In its ruling, the panel suggested that Mr A and the second man might have “planted a seed” in Wiffen’s mind when they used the slur as the police officer said he would not normally use the word.
The panel added: “He said he has gay friends, and at the time he knew ‘fag’ is an offensive word.
“He said it would destroy him if someone thought he was homophobic. He said this was not how he approached life, and that he had friends who are gay and who look different and dress differently.”
The panel ultimately concluded that there was no evidence Wiffen knew Mr A was bisexual when he used the slur. Therefore, the panel accepted that Wiffen is not homophobic.
The disciplinary committee let Wiffen keep his job, but handed him a final written warning which will remain in place for three years.