PC Jonathon Cobban is still on the Metropolitan Police’s payroll, reveals Sascha Lavin
A Metropolitan Police officer convicted of sharing “grossly offensive” WhatsApp messages will continue to receive his full salary, Byline Times can reveal.
Jonathon Cobban, 35, was found guilty on Wednesday of sharing misogynist and racist messages between 5 April and 9 August 2019 in a WhatsApp group that included Wayne Couzens – the former Met Police officer who kidnapped, murdered and raped Sarah Everard.
Serving officer Cobban is reportedly paid at least £33,500 a year but, according to a Met Police spokesperson, the force is constrained by national police regulations and it cannot automatically stop an officer’s pay unless they are detained or dismissed.
Cobban is due to be sentenced in November. He is yet to face a police misconduct hearing that could lead to his dismissal.
The Met Police spokesperson explained that the internal hearings had been delayed until the criminal proceedings concluded in order to “preserve the integrity of the criminal case”.
Former Met Police officer and fellow WhatsApp group member Couzens only stopped being paid his salary after he pleaded guilty on 9 July 2021 – three months after he raped and murdered Sarah Everard.
Cobban – along with fellow defendants PC William Neville, and ex-colleague Joel Borders – unsuccessfully attempted to get the case thrown out in July. He denied all charges of sending grossly offensive, indecent, obscene or menacing messages on a public electronic communications network.
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Cobban admitted to sharing the messages but told Westminster Magistrates’ Court that he "meant them to be taken as humorous banter and nothing more”.
Borders was found guilty of all five charges he faced, while serving officer Neville was acquitted of all charges.
The judgment said that the WhatsApp group appeared to have been viewed by the defendants “as a safe space, involving a small number of like-minded individuals, in which they had free rein to share controversial and deeply offensive messages without fear of retribution”.
During the trial, WhatsApp messages appearing to joke about performing sex acts on domestic violence victims were shown to the court, with Cobban writing: “That’s alright, DV victims love it... that’s why they are repeat victims more often than not.”
In an exchange on 9 August 2019, Cobban wrote: “Haha struggle snuggles are always useful… good skills!” – a remark prosecutors said was the acting out of a rape fantasy – after his colleague described pinning a 15-year-old girl to the floor during an incident.
Cobban also repeatedly shared racist and Islamophobic messages with the group.
Referring to a racially diverse area of London, he wrote: “Got a bus through Houslow... what a f***ing Somali S***hole. Great. There goes p***y patrol... more like FGM [female genital mutilation] patrol”.
He also likened Hounslow to “walking along a Dulux colour code”.
In another exchange, Cobban joked about the prospect of leaving Muslims to die in a terrorist bombing.
Two years before the message exchanges, Cobban – then serving as an officer at the Civil Nuclear Constabulary – had volunteered to take on the additional responsibility of being the “race and diversity custodian” for the unit.
This week’s conviction is the latest in a series of scandals that have surrounded the Met Police in recent years, raising questions over whether it is safe for women and non-white communities.
An investigation by the Byline Intelligence Team last year found that more than half of the Met Police officers found guilty of sexual misconduct over a four-year period to 2020 remained in their jobs.
The force was placed under special measures in June after a litany of shortcomings were revealed – including failing to report 70,000 crimes. Two months earlier, the Independent Office for Police Conduct revealed “disgraceful” misogyny, discrimination and sexual harassment in a police unit based at Charing Cross police station.
While Commander Jon Savell, of the Met Police's department that includes professional standards, said that it is “determined to rid this organisation of those who corrupt its integrity”, a recent official inspection report found that Met Police supervisors were so overworked that they were missing wrongdoing.
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