Gwenton Sloley: Leading anti-gangs worker who says he was targeted by police is cleared of criminal charges
- Credit: Archant
A leading anti-gangs worker who says he was targeted by Met officers he had trained has been cleared of two charges after an 18-month legal battle.
Gwenton Sloley, who grew up in Stoke Newington, was accused of perverting the course of justice by making a false allegation of burglary at his Lewisham home, as well as acquiring, using or possessing criminal property - £1,985 in cash.
The charges followed two raids on the flat in three months. The first, in October 2018, saw officers wrongly storm the property and cause damage while searching it.
Gwenton reported it as a burglary before police acknowledged they had carried out a search warrant, which was actually intended for the previous occupant who had moved out five years earlier.
Following the second raid in January last year, Gwenton was arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the supply of class A drugs. He was re-bailed repeatedly before the charges were eventually filed in July for the false allegation and criminal property offences.
Both allegations were dismissed during a hearing at Woolwich Crown Court on Monday, before the trial began.
Gwenton, who has been lauded by the Home Office for his work tackling violent crime among youths, is now looking to get his life back on track.
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"I have been hospitalised twice and suffered mentally and emotionally over the past 18 months," he told the Gazette. "This has had a massive impact on my entire family."
Gwenton is founder of Crying Sons, through which he has trained government officers, police, NHS workers, faith groups and councils on how to spot and engage with youngsters on the verge of entering gang life. He also helped set up the London Gang Exit programme.
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He has already lodged complaints accusing Lewisham officers of "blacklisting" him by spreading news of the first raid to his employers across the UK. Dozens of contracts were cancelled and an investigation into the incident was launched by the Met's Directorate of Professional Standards. He wants £3million for defamation of character.
Following the "blacklisting", Gwenton said: "I feel completely violated by the experience."
Gwenton has now demanded his "blacklisting" is retracted, and says he would have no problem working with police again despite his ordeal.
"After 14 years building bridges with communities across the UK I will not let this incident stop the hard work I do," he added. "There are some amazing police officers across the country that I have trained and worked with who put their lives on the line.
"I don't want that to get lost in the bad practice of a few officers. The great work needs to continue to save and preserve life."
Gwenton's law firm Imran Khan and Partners has not ruled out more legal action against the force.
Trainee solicitor Tricia O'Sullivan said: "Our client is absolutely delighted that, after what has been an extremely long and gruelling process, the charges against him have been dismissed.
"The bringing of these proceedings has come at no small cost to the public purse and Mr Sloley has maintained both his innocence, and that there is no evidence against him, throughout."
The Met declined to comment on the accusations Gwenton was targeted.
A spokesperson said: "A complaint in relation to damage of reputation and character was received on Tuesday, 30 October 2018. A subsequent complaint was received in July 2019.
"Matters remain under investigation by the Directorate of Professional Standards. As with any investigation complainants are kept up to date on progress."