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Wednesday, 23 August, 2000, 21:31 GMT 22:31 UK
'Hate mail officer' victim of racism
Gurpal Virdi and wife Sathat
Gurpal Virdi celebrates the ruling with his wife, Sathat
A Sikh police officer who was sacked after being accused of sending racist hate mail was himself the victim of racist discrimination, a tribunal has found.

Sergeant Gurpal Virdi was accused of sending letters to non-white officers in the Ealing division of the Metropolitan Police, telling them to leave the force.

But an employment tribunal said there was no evidence to suggest that Mr Virdi was responsible for the campaign.

And it found that Mr Virdi was himself the victim of racial discrimination during the Met's four-week internal disciplinary hearing into his case.

I wanted to be a policeman and I maintain that the police service is a good service

Gurpal Virdi
Mr Virdi said he was delighted with the tribunal's findings.

"It's achieved the results that totally vindicate me from these silly allegations," he said.

"I wanted to clear my name, that is the first and utmost thing, but I will have to reassess everything."

Mr Virdi called for the senior officers involved in the investigation to resign.

"I wanted to be a policeman and I maintain that the police service is a good service," he said.

"Unfortunately there have been senior officers that have let the system down and if they have any sense, they should resign."

Mr Virdi now faces an employment tribunal over his claims of unfair dismissal, as well as appeals to the Commissioner and the Home Secretary, Jack Straw.

The tribunal said that during the investigation into the race letters, Mr Virdi was treated differently to a white female officer, Pc Jackie Bachelor, who was also a suspect.

'Race discrimination'

It said the Metropolitan Police could not claim it had carried out good investigation practice.

"We therefore infer and conclude that the reason for their failures is not incompetence but is because of Pc Virdi's race," it said.

"We therefore find that Gurpal Virdi has been the subject of discrimination on the ground of his race."

Mr Virdi's solicitor, Lisa Connerty, said he had to endure having his home searched for seven hours by a specialist team in April 1998.

Acting Commissioner Ian Blair
Ian Blair: Accepted the tribunal's decision
"The home of the white suspect in the case was not searched at all," she said.

The Metropolitan Police said they accepted the tribunal's decision.

Acting Commissioner Ian Blair, said: "It is time to draw a line under this long story."

"We have already been in contact with Mr Virdi's representative to arrange an urgent meeting to seek his views on the future."

He said it was important that the force learned lessons from the case.

Mr Virdi was accused of sending racist hate mail to 13 of the 15 non-white officers, including himself, on 24 December, 1997.

The letters told the officers to leave the force and were signed with the initials of the National Front.

Six more letters were sent to civilian workers on 19 January, 1998.

One of the messages was allegedly linked to Mr Virdi's computer.

Father-of-two Mr Virdi had 16 years of unblemished service in the Metropolitan police force.

But it was suggested that he had been turned down for promotion and was planning a claim of racial discrimination against the force.

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03 Mar 00 | UK
Sikh officer sent hate mail
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