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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 June, 2005, 15:53 GMT 16:53 UK
Met officer 'witch hunt victim'
Beat officers
The officer are claiming race and sex discrimination
A white police officer accused of racism by an Asian colleague has told an employment tribunal he was the subject of a witch hunt.

Det Con Tom Hassell, 60, was investigated with two senior officers for remarks he apparently made in 1999 about Shia Muslims.

A 2001 disciplinary hearing found them partly guilty of misconduct, but an appeal cleared all three men.

The officers are suing the Metropolitan Police for race and sex discrimination.

The original complaint was made by Det Sgt Shabnam Chaudhri.

Suffering depression

She also criticised Acting Det Insp Paul Whatmore and Det Sgt Colin Lockwood for not taking appropriate action.

Two of the officers were suspended for several weeks and one was signed off for three weeks suffering from depression.

When they appealed against the hearing's result, Britain's most senior Asian officer, Asst Commissioner Tariq Ghaffur, cleared the men saying it was incredible that the case had been brought.

Giving evidence at the Stratford Employment Tribunal, Mr Hassell told how in 1999 he was based at Loughton Police Station along with Ms Chaudhri.

I felt I was being treated as a criminal
Det Con Tom Hassell

During a presentation on Islam, the officer told how he had once seen hundreds of Muslims at an airport going to Mecca and said their hats reminded him of teapot cosies.

Talking about the different types of Muslims, he mentioned the Shia pronouncing it in a derogatory manner, but was immediately corrected by Mr Lockwood.

Mr Hassell told the tribunal he immediately apologised to the group, but Ms Chaudhri complained and in December Mr Hassell was suspended for several weeks.

He said: "Until this time I had over 26 years of unblemished police service and had been presented with a police good conduct medal ... I felt I was being treated as a criminal."

Mr Hassell said he was convinced Ms Chaudhri made her complaint because she was under pressure and facing investigation for her own alleged poor policing.

The tribunal continues.

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