Page last updated at 17:57 GMT, Thursday, 1 October 2009 18:57 UK

Officer wins turban row tribunal

Pc Gurmeal Singh
Pc Gurmeal Singh said the verdict was a weight off his shoulders

A Sikh police officer who was told to remove his turban during riot training has won his discrimination case against Greater Manchester Police.

An employment tribunal ruled Gurmeal Singh, 31, will receive compensation after being subject to "indirect discrimination" and harassment.

In a long-running dispute with the force, a sergeant said: "Can you take that thing off?" the tribunal heard.

Judge Murray Creed said this was a "violation" of his "dignity".

Pc Singh, who is based at Wythenshawe Police Station, had already told his superiors that he would not remove the turban on religious grounds, but was ordered to do the riot training course while off work with stress.

He told the tribunal sitting in Manchester he feared he would be made to look like a comic character from Only Fools And Horses.

It leaves him in difficulty in relation to his future career but will hopefully open the eyes of Greater Manchester Police
Pc Singh's solicitor, Jag Brar

In one episode of the TV sitcom Del Boy Trotter tried to sell 200 "crash turbans" for motorbike-riding Sikhs - which were helmets with cloth wrapped around them.

Out of the officer's 15 grievances, two were ruled in his favour: Harassment from a superior and "indirect discrimination" because the rules around the riot training lacked "clarity".

Speaking outside the employment tribunal, Pc Singh said the judgment was "a weight off my shoulders" and said the grievance process had been a "very long road".

His solicitor, Jag Brar, said: "Mr Singh is over the moon and very relieved and will now put this behind him and move forward.

"He joined the police because of his values as a Sikh. What is important now is what Greater Manchester Police will do to help him come back.

"It is a clear indication that this discrimination will not be tolerated.

"It leaves him in difficulty in relation to his future career but will hopefully open the eyes of Greater Manchester Police."

When asked whether he wanted to continue working for the police force, Mr Singh shook his head.

'Hyped emotion'

Pc Singh, who joined the force in 2003, said the meeting with his sergeant had been heated and he felt "humiliated" by being told to remove his turban.

After hearing the evidence, Judge Creed agreed, saying: "This tribunal is satisfied that the meeting was not calm.

"There was a degree of hyped emotion. He [the sergeant] was aggressive and challenging in his manner."

Pc Singh is currently on sick leave from the force, and has suffered from panic attacks and high blood pressure.

Judge Creed said that the tribunal had taken into account his health issues which have been "compounded" by the stress of suing the force.

Assistant Chief Officer at GMP, Julia Rogers said: "We felt we acted in the officer's best interests, but accept the findings from this tribunal and have already updated the policies this relates to.

"We welcome the introduction of the newly formed British Police Sikh Association and will be looking to work closely with them via ACPO, in an effort to resolve any ongoing issues."

The sum of compensation will be agreed on Friday.



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