Page last updated at 22:26 GMT, Wednesday, 25 June 2008 23:26 UK

Top Asian officer in race claim

Assistant Commissioner, Tarique Ghaffur
It is not the first time Mr Ghaffur has spoken out on police discrimination

The country's most senior Asian police officer has accused his own force of racial discrimination.

Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur is preparing a legal case against the Metropolitan Police.

His allegations include being silenced over concerns against 42-day detention and being sidelined by Commissioner Sir Ian Blair in key decisions.

The Metropolitan Police said it was unaware of any tribunal application but would be disappointed at any action.

Jenny Jones, who sits on the Metropolitan Police Authority, told the BBC's Newsnight programme that she had never seen any racism in the police.

Undermined and subjugated

She described Mr Ghaffur as a "a very senior officer with an incredibly important job".

She said: "I'm incredibly sad that this is happening, if it's happening. And I hope very much that if there is any hint of racism it will be exposed. But I personally have never witnessed any."

Mr Ghaffur is said to have complained of being humiliated, undermined and subjugated by the Metropolitan Police.

The Black Police Association has said it is backing the assistant commissioner's complaint.

The negative effect of such an action... cannot be under-estimated
Ali Dizaei, president National Black Police Association

Mr Ghaffur has employed a senior barrister to draw up legal papers and is considering whether to formally commence an employment tribunal.

The BBC understands there are four main issues that have prompted Mr Ghaffur - who is in charge of planning security at the London 2012 Olympics - to take action.

These claims include:

• A failure to renew his five-year contract - due to end in March 2009 - when other officers of a similar level have had theirs renewed.

• Being sidelined by Commissioner Sir Ian Blair who has allegedly excluded him from key Olympic security planning meetings.

• That he was allegedly browbeaten to keep quiet about his reservations that new laws to detain terror suspects for 42 days were unnecessary.

• That his relationship with Sir Ian has broken down.

It is understood that Mr Ghaffur believes these issues have undermined his role in preparations for the Olympics.

Mr Ghaffur, who was speaking at the Association of Chief Police Officers annual conference in Liverpool earlier, refused to comment. "I'm not able to say a word. I can't comment," he said.

But Ali Dizaei, president of the National Black Police Association, said he was aware of Mr Ghaffur's concerns.

He said: "It will be a sad day for the police service if one of the UK's most respected senior ethnic minority police officers is forced to challenge his treatment in court.

"The negative effect of such an action on recruitment and on trust and confidence in policing, in particular with minority ethnic communities, will be significant and cannot be under-estimated."

It would send a message to potential recruits from ethnic backgrounds that the police was not a career for them, he said.

My face did not fit and did not fit because I am not white
Commander Shabir Hussain

A Met spokesman said: "The Metropolitan Police Service is unaware that an employment tribunal application has been served or is in the process of preparation.

"If it is, we regret and are disappointed that Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur has chosen to pursue such a course."

The spokesman added: "We are keen to listen to any concerns that he has and attempt to resolve them with him.

"Any suggestion that the commissioner will not speak to AC Ghaffur is absolutely untrue."

The news comes as Sir Ian was accused in another employment tribunal of excluding black and Asian detectives in favour of a "golden circle" of white officers.

Commander Shabir Hussain, 45, claimed he was passed over for promotion by Sir Ian an "unprecedented" four times.

Speaking at a London employment tribunal on Tuesday, he said: "My face did not fit and did not fit because I am not white."

The claims by Mr Ghaffur and Mr Hussain are the latest controversy to hit Sir Ian, following the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes, the Forest Gate raid and a number of comments widely perceived to have been ill-judged.

Stop-and-search

And it is not the first time Mr Ghaffur has spoken out against the police.

In 2006, during a speech in Manchester, he warned that Muslims were being discriminated against as the result of anti-terror legislation.

He said many police stop-and-searches were based more on physical appearance than on specific intelligence.

Born in Uganda in east Africa, his family were forced to flee their native land when dictator Idi Amin expelled most of the country's minority Asian population in 1972.

Two years later, he began his police career as a Pc with Greater Manchester Police (GMP) in Salford.

At the time Mr Ghaffur was one of only two officers from an ethnic minority in a force of more than 6,000.

He has recalled that on his first day the desk sergeant refused to believe he was a police officer and initially would not let him enter the station.


SEE ALSO
Profile: Tarique Ghaffur
25 Jun 08 |  UK

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