A Metropolitan Police officer who refused constable Khafilat Kareem permission to go on Big Brother Nigeria has told a tribunal at her misconduct hearing that he thought she would be under “tremendous pressure”.
Police Constable Khafilat Kareem was a serving Met Police officer when she applied to Big Brother Naija in 2019, a detail she gave to the organisers during her application.
Chief Superintendent Jason Gwillim told a misconduct hearing he felt her appearance would bring the force into disrepute.
PC Kareem known as Khafi in the show entered the Big Brother house in Lagos in June 2019 and lasted 77 days before being evicted.
The Met said she went on the programme “without authority”. PC Kareem is facing the misconduct hearing at the Empress Building in west London.
She has admitted one misconduct allegation of surrendering her work laptop to the producers of Big Brother, but denies three other misconduct allegations.
On Tuesday the panel heard from Ch Supt Gwillim, who was PC Kareem’s line manager, and initially said he was “open minded” about her request to go on the reality TV show after hearing about her successful auditions.
“I said I needed to do some research and PC Kareem kindly sent me some links,” Ch Supt Gwillim told the hearing.
“She said it was different to the UK version. The impression I got was it less controversial as Nigeria is a very religious country.”
Anne Studd QC, for the Met Police, asked: “A toned down version?”
“Yes,” he replied.
However, Ch Supt Gwillim explained he ultimately came to the conclusion PC Kareem should not go on Big Brother Naija.
He told the tribunal:
“The risk I felt that I was considering was that with PC Kareem, who was a police officer, there would be an expectation for her to act if something unlawful happened – arguments, tension or fighting.
“I think she’d feel that pressure to intervene and if she didn’t – would that perspective look of an officer not acting bring the service [Met Police] into disrepute.
“There is a tremendous amount of pressure with people in the spotlight – people want to win. I found the more people are outrageous the more they are likely to win.
“For me there was a significant chance of the force being brought into disrepute.”
Ch Supt Gwillim said he called PC Kareem on 23 June to explain his rationale for her not to go on Big Brother and also set it out in an email.
However, he did grant PC Kareem special leave as he was familiar with her work in Brazilian favelas, Chinese villages and when promoting diversity in the Met Police.
He said: “We parted by saying ‘I’m really sorry, I know this is not what you want to hear’, but the message I conveyed to her was clear she was not to go on Big Brother.
“She replies back saying ‘thanks for the advice’, so I then made it clear this is not advice.”
Previously, the tribunal heard PC Kareem contacted Deputy Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist on 30 June hours before she went on the programme to ask him to reverse the decision for her not to go on the programme.
Mr Twist voiced concerns over PC Kareem’s welfare, her conduct and the public image of a serving Met Police officer on a reality TV show.
Ch Supt Gwillim said the following day he became aware PC Kareem had entered the Big Brother house and was uncontactable until September.
He told the hearing his concerns then shifted towards her welfare as the national media began to pick up on the story.
The tribunal continues.