Scotland Yard commander behind force’s drugs strategy ‘admits using cannabis – saying it is for medical reasons’
- Commander Julian Bennett allegedly informed investigators he uses cannabis
- Said it was for ‘medical reasons’ that were not specified, sources have claimed
- He leads the Metropolitan Police on criminal justice and has served since 1977
- Understood he was taken off duty after refusing to have a drug test after a tip-off
- Previously responsible for force’s drug policy when he was in territorial policing
A Scotland Yard commander who led the force’s drug strategy and heads misconduct hearings has admitted using cannabis.
Commander Julian Bennett – who was nicknamed ‘Sacker’ due to the number of officers kicked out of the force following his rulings – was secretly suspended in July following claims involving controlled drugs.
And now, Mr Bennett has informed professional standards investigators that he uses cannabis for ‘medical reasons’ that were not specified, insiders claim.
The officer leads the Metropolitan Police on criminal justice – which includes managing prosecutions and pandemic planning.
Commander Julian Bennett (pictured), who led the force’s drug strategy and heads misconduct hearings, has admitted using cannabis
It is understood he was taken off duty after refusing to have a drug test following a tip-off about alleged substance abuse.
Mr Bennett was previously responsible for his force’s drug policy when he was commander for territorial policing.
In 2018 he wrote the Metropolitan Police’s drug strategy from 2017 to 2021 – which was titled ‘Dealing with the impact of drugs on communities’. The strategy set out the force’s plans to raise ‘awareness of the dangers of drug misuse’.
A source told The Sun: ‘The commander’s position is that he has not done anything wrong legally. He has said that he uses cannabis, but purely for medical reasons.’
Cannabis is used by sufferers of cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy since it was made legal via prescription in November 2018.
Oils and pills containing a low amount of cannabis do not require prescriptions and can be bought at pharmacies.
Mr Bennett has presided over cannabis hearings resulting in dismissals in his role.
He also chaired the panel which fired PC Simon Harwood after he struck newspaper seller Ian Tomlinson, 47, with a baton and shoved him to the ground during the G20 protests in 2009.
Mr Tomlinson collapsed and died minutes later.
Mr Bennett was also the chairman of the misconduct probe into five officers over the arrest of musician Sean Rigg who died in custody in 2008.
Oils (file image of CBD oil, pictured) and pills containing a low amount of cannabis do not require prescriptions and can be bought at pharmacies
Renowned within the force for his stern rulings, he was once the subject of a Freedom of Information request about how many officers had been dismissed under his watch.
It revealed that two-thirds of the hearings he chaired resulted in an officer being fired between June 2010 and February 2012.
The officer, who has been married three times, has served in a number of high profile roles since he joined the force in 1977.
He was previously leader of the force’s Operation Venice, which targeted moped gangs. He also ran an operational unit which planned for the 2012 London Olympics. And Mr Bennett has also previously been the central and south area commander.
Last year he became the Metropolitan Police’s lead for criminal justice. His work involves ensuring the quality of officers’ paperwork going into the Crown Prosecution Service is up to scratch.
As part of his pandemic planning remit, he also liaised with prosecutors over court availability.
In August, Scotland Yard confirmed that a senior officer had been suspended after a referral to the police watchdog on July 22.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct said the matter had been assessed and referred back to the force just two days later for internal investigation.
A Metropolitan Police spokesman said the force’s own probe is under way, adding: ‘The officer has been suspended from duty.’