Sergeant George Panayi, 48, dodged the sack after kissing the female officer and pinched her cheeks whilst on duty, and was accused of opening the loo door knowing she was inside
Image: NEIL HALL/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)
A “stupid” police sergeant who kissed and pinched the cheek of a female officer while on duty has avoided the sack.
Sergeant George Panayi, 48, part of the Metropolitan Police’s East Area Command Unit, was also accused of opening the door to a lavatory knowing she was inside.
A misconduct panel has decided he would not lose his job for his actions, and instead should face a reduction in rank.
Earlier the victim had told the hearing she had been sitting in the driver’s seat of a police van in December 2019 when Sgt Panayi approached and asked to see the log book.
She said he showed her photographs of women on his phone and told her: “I’m dating them because you are not available.”
After that, she said he grabbed her face in a way that she could not move as she was put “in a headlock” with both hands and kissed her on the cheek.
When asked if she had consented, she called the incident “offensive, demeaning and horrifying, adding: “Absolutely not.”
“I was shocked. I did not know how to react.
“It was unwanted. It was offensive.”
Sgt Panayi told the hearing this week that it was not uncommon for him to kiss colleagues on the cheek when congratulating them on a promotion, greeting them after a long absence or when having “a bit of fun” with them.
He said: “There’s a cultural side to it, me being from a Mediterranean Greek origin.
“I am quite a touchy person when it comes to showing some kind of feeling or emotion.”
“I regret my actions and I admit that I’ve been a little bit naïve in my behaviour.
“I am aware of how the culture has moved since 2019 and I have changed considerably.”
“On reflection, I was stupid.”
The woman told the hearing that in February 2020, Sgt Panayi also pinched her cheek when she was in the middle of restraining a mental health patient trying to self-harm.
She said it was “completely unprofessional”, adding: “He didn’t do it to my other colleague. He did it to me.”
The woman told the hearing about the third allegation, said to have taken place on February 9 2020, in which she says Sgt Panayi opened the female lavatory door after she had gone in and before she had the chance to lock it.
The officer said she reported the incidents as they had not been one-offs.
She added: “This was becoming a pattern. My fear was that other things were going to happen.”
It was alleged that Sgt Panayi breached the standards of professional behavior in respect of authority, respect and courtesy.
The panel did not believe there was any sexual motivation behind Sgt Panayi’s behaviour.
Chairwoman of the police misconduct panel Eileen Herlihy said: “We find that all three allegations are proven as misconduct.”
“We find the officer’s behavior is entirely unprofessional.
The most appropriate and proportionate outcome is reduction in rank.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.