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Thursday, 8 August, 2002, 09:57 GMT 10:57 UK
Race chief's pay-off criticised
Gurbux Singh arriving at court
Gurbux Singh has led the CRE for two years
The Home Office has been criticised for awarding a six-figure severance package to the chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality, who resigned after being convicted of a criminal offence.

Gurbux Singh stepped down after admitting threatening police officers during an incident at Lord's cricket ground.

He was fined 500 and ordered to pay 55 costs at Bow Street magistrates court in London on Wednesday.


It just goes to show there's one law for certain people and one law for others

Norman Brennan
Victims of Crime Trust
But the decision to give Mr Singh a pay-off of at least 100,000 - a similar sum to his annual salary - has been attacked as "outrageous and completely wrong".

Former CRE commissioner Shahid Malik told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the award, apparently guaranteed by Mr Singh's contract, sent out "entirely the wrong message".

He said: "It is saying that crime pays when clearly it should not and it must not."

He added that contracts should be examined to make sure people who misbehave are not seen to benefit.

Norman Brennan, director of the Victims of Crime Trust, said the award supported the belief that certain people were "untouchable" when they did wrong.

He said: "Had a police officer committed an identical crime against Mr Singh or anyone else on the CRE, they would have been sacked and lost any pension rights.

"It just goes to show there's one law for certain people and one law for others."

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Norman Baker said that if Mr Singh had been a normal public sector worker he have been "leaving under a cloud" without compensation.

The payout would not be welcomed by the public, he added, who would see it as "an improper use of taxpayers' money".

Mark Leech, director of the Institute of Prison Law and founder of ex-offenders' charity Unlock, said: "I think this is outrageous and completely wrong.

"I fail to see why the taxpayer should pay over 100,000 to someone who by their own admission has committed a criminal offence, and therefore resigns because his job is untenable."

Mr Singh said he had decided to step down from his post "in order that a line can be drawn under recent events".

His confrontation with police came as he left Lord's, in north London, after watching India beat England in a one-day international.

Prosecutor Deborah Walsh told the court that Mr Singh was with his wife Siobhan Maguire, 40, when he walked into a police officer.

She said he had walked towards the officer with clenched fists and had sworn at him.

Apology

Ms Walsh said: "The officer said if two males had not been holding Mr Singh back, Mr Singh would have assaulted him.

"He then said: 'I'll have your jobs. Do you know who I am? Blair (Ian Blair, the Metropolitan Police deputy commissioner) is going to hear about this.' "

Police could smell drink on Mr Singh's breath, his eyes were glazed and he tried to head-butt one of the officers, the court heard.

William Boyce QC, representing Mr Singh, told the court his client was a man of honour and integrity.

He said: "He deeply feels he has let himself down and others."

District judge Nicholas Evans fined Mr Singh but he gave him credit for his guilty plea and for apologising to the police officers.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Mark Mardell reports
"Gurbux Singh can look forward to a big cheque from the government"
On the World Tonight:
Peter Bottomley, MP, and Patience Wheatcroft of The Times discuss the issue

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