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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 May 2006, 12:33 GMT 13:33 UK
Force faces discrimination claims
A former officer has taken Nottinghamshire Police to an employment tribunal, claiming he was victimised for being gay.

Ben Stokes, 23, of Bingham, told the tribunal he was investigated by colleagues after they found out he was profiled on a gay dating website.

He said he became suicidal after officers pursued a "lengthy" investigation into his private life.

The force is expected to give evidence at the tribunal next week.

It was the insinuation that there was something wrong with being on an over-18 gay dating website
Ben Stokes

Mr Stokes, who resigned from Nottinghamshire police two weeks ago, said his personal affairs became the subject of an inquiry after he called the police for help.

The officer, who was 20 at the time, claimed he had received abusive phone calls from his 16-year-old partner's mother because she did not approve of her son's relationship.

Mr Stokes then became the focus of an inquiry after the mother complained about his professional conduct.

He said he was made to feel uncomfortable during a visit at his city centre flat by Insp Steven Payne.

He said: "Shortly after arriving and walking around my apartment, he said 'so this is the gay village of Nottingham, is it?'

'Inappropriate membership'

"I was surprised at this because at this time I was not 'out' at work.

"He said he felt my membership of the site was inappropriate and the disclosure of my profession on it was inappropriate.

"It was the insinuation that there was something wrong with being on an over-18 gay dating website."

The complainant was warned his use of the internet site put him at risk of being involved in under-age sex, the tribunal heard.

Mr Stokes said he returned home in November 2004 to find officers searching his flat.

He said he was being investigated on suspicion of child pornography after images were allegedly discovered under the bed of a flatmate.

He was arrested and taken to a local police station but later released without charge.

Mr Stokes said his relationship with the 16-year-old that sparked the investigation was legal and that detectives failed to understand that the over-18s dating website was legitimate.

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