Two sacked PCSOs who shared naked pictures of a female officer with colleagues which they found on her mobile phone yesterday lost their case against wrongful dismissal.
Joy Shoker, 24, and Khalid Akhtar, 42, claimed West Midlands Police were guilty of racial discrimination and were in breach of contract.
But the case was thrown out after it emerged they lodged their appeal four months after the three month cut-off period.
Tribunal proceedings should have been started by November 22 last year – three months after their dismissal – but nothing was filed until March 3 this year.
The officers, who have 10 years police experience between them, were sacked on August 23 last year following accusations of bullying and harassment of a female PCSO – referred to as Miss X.
The intimate snaps on Miss X’s phone were found in March 2011 and were apparently distributed to colleagues who then bombarded her with their own mocking pictures.
The PCSOs sent snaps to 42-year-old Miss X showing close-up images of themselves facing the camera and holding two fingers against their parted lips.
Another snap which they sent the married officer showed a T-shirt with the words: “I (love heart) beef curtains.”
The pair, both from Wolverhampton, West Mids., denied bullying and claimed the images were paying homage to a scene from ITV hit comedy Benidorm.
Speaking after the hearing, Akhtar, who had worked for the force in Walsall, West Mids., for six years said his life had been left in “tatters” since he was dismissed.
He said: “I have been fighting this every step of the way – I just want justice for myself.
“I’m devastated. I’ve lost my job and people look down on me because of what they think I have done. I loved my job.
“She [Miss X] was actually one of my best friends, but now she thinks I’ve been talking about her behind her back.
“She thought the pictures were making fun of her, but they weren’t.”
Shoker, 24, who worked for the force for four years, has since got a new job as an administrator.
She said: “It has been really hard. The whole thing has been blown out of proportion.
“It was some text messages between a group of friends – a bit of banter is all.
“It had nothing to do with anyone in particular, it was just from Benidorm.”
Employment tribunal judge Laurie Anstis, said the pair’s claims that they were advised badly by their representatives from Unison were no excuse for the delay.
He said: “It is the case that what the trade unions know must be taken to be what the claimants know. It is not for us to get into whether the claimants were badly advised.
“It was reasonably practicable for proceedings to have been brought within the time limit.
“The tribunal cannot consider the claims any further, and so they must be dismissed.”
West Midlands Police refused to comment after the case.
Chris Rowson, head of Human Resources at West Midlands Police, said: “I can confirm that five members of police staff were suspended following an incident in May 2011.
“Four were dismissed for gross misconduct and one was subsequently reinstated on appeal. One other person resigned whilst suspended.
“West Midlands Police expects the highest standards of professional behaviour from all of its employees and will thoroughly investigate allegations suggesting that any employee falls short of these expectations.”