Page last updated at 18:26 GMT, Tuesday, 9 September 2008 19:26 UK

Asian officer relieved of duties

Assistant Commissioner, Tarique Ghaffur
Mr Ghaffur claims he was discriminated against by the Met

The UK's most senior Asian police officer has been "temporarily relieved of his responsibilities", Commissioner Sir Ian Blair has said.

The decision came after Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur lodged a 1.2m racial discrimination claim against the Metropolitan Police (Met).

Sir Ian said he took the action because of the way Mr Ghaffur had "chosen to conduct himself" in the media.

Mr Ghaffur accused the Met of carrying out "wilful acts of victimisation".

Following the decision Mr Ghaffur said: "It is obvious to me the actions that have been taken, today and yesterday, have all the hallmarks of wilful acts of victimisation against me for explaining why I had made my complaint.

My decision results from the way in which he has chosen to conduct himself
Sir Ian Blair

Mr Ghaffur lodged the claim against the Met with an employment tribunal on 22 August.

He claims he was discriminated against on grounds of race, religion and age.

He added: "To permit victimisation for commencing discrimination litigation to go unchallenged would send entirely the wrong message about race relations and equal opportunities - that the risks involved in complaining of discrimination are too great."

Mr Ghaffur added he would consult his lawyers about future proceedings "on the basis of unlawful victimisation".

Earlier Sir Ian said he made the decision to put Mr Ghaffur on "authorised leave of absence" following his recent press conference on his race claim case against the Met.

Sir Ian said: "It is also clear this is having a negative impact on the London 2012 Olympic Security programme and risks undermining confidence in it.

Sir Ian Blair
Sir Ian said he wanted the issues to be resolved through mediation

"Accordingly, I have decided that, for the time being, AC Tarique Ghaffur be temporarily relieved of his responsibilities, although he will remain an assistant commissioner in the Metropolitan Police Service."

"My decision results from the way in which he has chosen to conduct himself, for example by the manner in which statements were made in his press conference, and in conducting a media campaign, both personally and through the advisers and organisations supporting him."

Sir Ian added that the Met wanted to "find a way to resolve his issues through a mediated process".

Mr Ghaffur is head of security planning for London's 2012 Olympics.

During his absence, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Chris Allison will take over the command of Central Operations, including the contribution to Olympic security.

'At your own peril'

The Met's Black Police Association (BPA) also said that Mr Ghaffur had been "victimised" by Sir Ian.

"The message that this sends to black and minority ethnic officers and staff is clear: 'Exercise your right to challenge unfairness and discrimination at your own peril.

'You will not be listened to and you and your supporters are likely to be victimised'," BPA said.

London mayor Boris Johnson backed Sir Ian's decision, saying it was "a necessary move" and in the best interests of policing in the capital.

Earlier this month an employment tribunal dismissed another Asian officer's claims of racial discrimination against the force and the Metropolitan Police Authority.

Commander Shabir Hussain claimed he was overlooked for promotion four times, although the tribunal ruled that this was because other candidates had more experience, or had performed better at interview.

Mr Ghaffur's case is due to be heard in 2009.


SEE ALSO
'No racism' over Met promotions
02 Sep 08 |  London
Profile: Tarique Ghaffur
25 Jun 08 |  UK

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