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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 June, 2005, 20:27 GMT 21:27 UK
Met police chief denies race bias
Sir Ian Blair
Sir Ian denied hanging the men "out to dry"
Met Police chief Sir Ian Blair has denied claims that white policemen were victims of sex and race discrimination.

The three officers faced a disciplinary hearing after an Asian colleague complained they had made racist remarks at a training day in 1999.

The officers, who were later cleared on appeal, say they were "hung out to dry" to protect the Met's reputation in the wake of the Macpherson report.

Sir Ian denied this, but defended "fiercely protecting" the Met's values.

'Disproportionate over-reaction'

Asian Detective Sergeant Shabnam Chaudhri made the complaint after Detective Constable Tom Hassell, 60, referred to Muslim headwear as "tea cosies" and mispronounced 'Shi'ites' during a presentation on Islam in 1999.

Although he apologised immediately for the mispronunciation, DS Chaudhri complained he had been racist and his superiors failed to intervene.

It came in the wake of the Macpherson report into the Stephen Lawrence murder investigation which concluded the Met was institutionally racist.

A 2001 disciplinary hearing found them partly guilty of misconduct but recommended no further action be taken. Sir Ian questioned this and asked if the ruling could be challenged, but was told it could not.

Later an appeal cleared all three men.

Ruth Downing, on behalf of the men, suggested their treatment had been a "disproportionate over-reaction" and had the complaint come from a white officer, it would not have been treated the same way.

I would not seek out hanging somebody out to dry just to prove a point
Sir Ian Blair

Questioning Sir Ian about why he wanted to challenge the June 2001 misconduct board's decision, she asked: "Could it be indicative of your anger or annoyance that the message you wanted to send out to those white officers would not be sent out through the disciplinary board?"

Sir Ian replied: "It is not about the white officers, it is about the city we serve.

"An officer had said what they said. They had not been reprimanded in any way by a supervisor, a disciplinary board found that while that had happened there was no further action - I thought that was awful."

He said the slurs were "repetitive, deliberate and offensive" and were made worse by the fact supervising officers laughed at them.

DC Hassell, Acting Det Ch Insp Paul Whatmore, 39, and Det Sgt Colin Lockwood, 55, are suing the Met for race and sex discrimination.

The tribunal, in Stratford, east London, continues.




SEE ALSO:
Met officer 'witch hunt victim'
08 Jun 05 |  London


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