Edinburgh police officer cleared of groping colleague

Fettes police station
Fettes police station
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A POLICE officer accused of groping a female colleague while sitting in a room packed with fellow officers has been cleared - despite a sheriff not accepting his evidence.

PC Brian King was said to have fondled the backside of the woman as the pair sat in the Muster Room at Police Scotland’s Fettes police station during a shift changeover.

King was seen to motion for the woman to sit next to him by rubbing the seat but as she approached the chair King was said to have turned his hand over and wiggle his fingers in a provocative manner.

The female PC, who is in her 30s, said she believed King would pull his hand away but as she sat down she found King’s hand still underneath her bottom.

She said the PC’s grope stunt had left her ”humiliated and embarrassed” after it had taken place in front of around 15 fellow officers, some of whom witnessed the incident.

King had denied making any gesture and claimed he was only spinning the seat round for the woman to sit on during the incident on January 18 last year.

But despite her testimony that she believed King had sexually assaulted her at the capital police station the case against King was found to be not proven following a trial at Edinburgh Sheriff Court last week.

And in clearing King, 52, of assaulting the woman, Sheriff Adrian Cottam told the cop he was “rejecting your explanation of how things happened” and he was accepting “almost entirely the evidence of the complainer”.

The female officer, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told the capital’s sheriff court during a hearing last month, the station’s Muster Room was “very busy” with around 15 to 20 officers getting ready to go out on patrol when a seat became free next to King.

She said: “He put his hand on the seat saying it’s nice and warm. His hand went up and I thought he was going to move it. He was moving his fingers, like in a jokey way.

“I thought he was just messing about and when I turned round [to sit down] I just assumed he would pull his hand away.

“I felt his hand grab my backside. It was all really quick and he pulled it away.”

The officer, who wept in the dock as she gave her evidence during last month’s part heard hearing, said she struck out at King and swore at him after she believed he had fondled her bottom.

She added: “He was laughing - it was very loud. I was quite humiliated, shocked and embarrassed really.

“I was humiliated because everyone was looking at me - it was not a nice experience.”

The officer added she tried to “laugh it off” at the time and did not report the assault to her superiors but after talking to her husband that evening she decided to report the matter the following day.

She added: “I felt like a line had been crossed.”

The officer admitted she was “nervous” about reporting King to her sergeant and that she was “aware this was serious and there would be consequences”.

Solicitor Advocate Vincent Lunny, defending, asked the female officer if the fondling incident had been “an honest mistake” and that she had “misinterpreted things” after King had failed to move his hand in time?

The officer replied: “No.”

A series of police officers also gave evidence to the court with some witnessing King, from Port Seton, East Lothian, rubbing the seat and “wriggling his fingers” as she approached him.

PC Craig Davidson said: “She sat on his hand and he went a bit red. Then he said ‘it’s funny how your bum touched my hand’.

“I don’t know if it was a prank gone wrong, but I didn’t think it was right. Something like that shouldn’t happen in the workplace.”

King told the court the incident had been “an accidental coming together” and that his colleagues who claimed to have seen him wiggling his fingers had been “mistaken”.

In finding the case against King not proven Sheriff Cottam added: “I am not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt there was an attack on the complainer.

“I am not satisfied it would be an assault for a person to leave their hand on a chair for a clothed person to sit on - it might be reckless at best.”