Love Island contestant Mike Boateng has admitted lying to take a day off while serving in the police, but said he acted out of character after facing racism in his force.
The former Greater Manchester Police constable was not barred from serving as an officer at a misconduct hearing on Thursday after he claimed there were mitigating circumstances, including incidents such as being called a “gorilla” by a colleague, which led to him breaching standards.
Boateng, who wore a black suit, white shirt and black tie for the video conference hearing, admitted he had lied to his supervising officers when he returned from a holiday to New York on December 6 2018.
Merseyside Police Chief Constable Andy Cooke, who chaired the hearing, said Boateng sent a message to a colleague telling him he had problems with his flight and would be unable to work a shift on December 7.
He returned to work on December 8 but continued to lie when asked for proof about his delay, which he claimed was due to a mix-up by British Airways, the hearing was told.
Judy Khan QC, representing Boateng, said he accepted his conduct amounted to gross misconduct but said there were “clear mitigating circumstances”.
She said: “Mr Boateng joined the police on January 3 2017. He had, at that time, the best of intentions in joining the force, wanting to overcome some of the negative attitudes between his community and the police force.
“It is unfortunate that very early on in his training he experienced incidents which caused him very serious concerns.”
She said Boateng, who appeared on the winter series of Love Island earlier this year, had been mistaken by superior officers for a footballer with the same name, who had been convicted of match fixing.
“Mr Boateng was made to stand next to a computer by his superiors for comparison with that individual because it was thought he was that person,” she said.
Ms Khan said during a role-play exercise in training he was called a “gorilla” by another trainee, who later said the remark had been made “in the heat of the moment”.
She added: “Mr Boateng’s clear impression was that he was being treated differently to fellow recruits and that persisted beyond his training.”
She said he felt “victimised” and more closely scrutinised by colleagues and required time off for depression as a result.
In December 2018, she said, he was facing two allegations which he denied and which were subsequently dropped, and was also under scrutiny for his sickness record.
Ms Khan said when Boateng, from London, returned from New York he was experiencing jetlag and felt unfit for duty.
She said: “He acted in a way which was wholly out of character for him. He lied out of panic.”
Ms Khan provided a number of character references to the hearing for Boateng, who resigned from the force in December last year.
Mr Cooke ruled the 24-year-old had breached police standards of professional behaviour for honesty and integrity and discreditable conduct.
But, he said it was clear the former officer was suffering from stress and if he had still been a serving policeman the sanction would be a final written warning rather than dismissal.
Boateng smiled as he was told his name would not appear on the College of Policing barred list.