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Saturday, 23 March, 2002, 12:49 GMT
Paddick 'victim of anti-gay press'
Commander Brian Paddick speaks to the waiting outside Brixton Police Station Monday March 18, 2002
Commander Paddick has been moved from Lambeth
A former colleague of Metropolitan police chief Brian Paddick has claimed his old boss has fallen victim to homophobia in the media.

Commander Paddick has been transferred from his job in the Borough of Lambeth pending investigation into newspaper allegations about his private life.

PC John Jeffrey told BBC Radio 5 Live that Mr Paddick, the UK's most senior openly gay police officer, had been treated unfairly by the press.

"Some of my colleagues feel his sexuality is one of the reasons that this is happening," he said.

"The majority of people I've spoken to feel sorry for him.

"He's a good man, he's a good police officer, he's a good manager - I think his private life should remain his private life."

Former partner

Mr Paddick was moved to another post, away from Lambeth, as an inquiry was launched into allegations that he regularly smoked cannabis and allowed the drug to be kept in his home.

The claims were made by his former boyfriend, James Renolleau, in the Mail on Sunday newspaper last weekend.

Cannabis leaf: Possession of cannabis in Lambeth is not prosecuted
Residents have welcomed the move on cannabis
A Scotland Yard spokesman has told the BBC that if a senior officer was found to have taken illegal substances, he could lose his job.

Mr Paddick himself has vehemently denied smoking cannabis, and has also claimed he is the victim of a homophobic witch-hunt.

Mr Paddick had been spearheading a police experiment on cannabis, where those in possession of small amounts of the drug are given a warning and have the drug confiscated, rather than being prosecuted.

The police have said it is still too early to make a definitive evaluation of the success of the scheme.

But a study by the Police Foundation found the trial was supported by 83% of Lambeth residents.

'Vultures'

A spokesman for the Lesbian and Gay Police Association, Stephen Warwick, has also said a negative press campaign is to blame for Mr Paddick's troubles.

"It's a smear campaign against... an intelligent man with liberal views, who is being circled by vultures known as the tabloids," he told BBC News last week.

He added that Mr Paddick's pioneering initiatives had also inspired a certain amount of "professional jealousy".

"The politics of the police, particularly when you get to senior level, make it difficult to stand out and take initiatives for fear of damaging your career, or having a witch-hunt such as this."

See also:

21 Mar 02 | England
Cannabis pilot to continue
21 Mar 02 | England
Public back cannabis trial
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