Friday, August 29, 2008

Race row policeman told to ''shut up'' and get on with his job

The Times 29 August 2008

Sean O Neill, Crime Editor

The country’s most senior Asian policeman was told by his superiors last night to “shut up” and get on with his job after publicly announcing that he was suing Scotland Yard for racism.

Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur was rebuked after appearing before TV cameras in full uniform to accuse Sir Ian Blair, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, of subjecting him to years of racial discrimination.Within two hours the Met’s Deputy Commissioner responded angrily. Sir Paul Stephenson said: “I think it is long past time that we all shut up, stop making public statements about private disputes and get on with the job we are paid to do.”

The Times understands that the Yard’s lawyers are examining whether Mr Ghaffur’s behaviour amounts to insubordination. Questions are also being asked by his colleagues about whether he can continue to sit with them on the Met’s senior management board, which directs police strategy in the capital.

Yesterday’s bitter exchanges followed months of backbiting and infighting at Scotland Yard and made the internal civil war a public affair.

Mr Ghaffur, a police officer since 1974, opened hostilities by confirming speculation that he was taking the Met to an employment tribunal. Accompanied by his lawyer, he held a press conference at a West End hotel to announce that he was taking his legal action with “deep regret”. His central grievance is that his contract has not been renewed beyond March and he is being removed from the job of devising security arrangements for the 2012 Olympic Games. Mr Ghaffur said: “My current case is essentially to do with my treatment at the highest levels of the Met, in particular the discrimination I have been subject to over a long period of time by the present Commissioner.”

Sir Paul responded with his stinging rebuke. The Deputy Commissioner said that he had advised Mr Ghaffur on Wednesday night against making a public show of his dispute with his boss but that advice had been ignored. Sir Paul added: “That is a matter for him to reconcile with what he considers to be his proper responsibilities as one of this country’s most senior police officers.”He added: “We do not accept the charges of discrimination against us ’’

The high-profile dispute will further undermine Sir Ian’s position. One senior officer told The Times: “The whole situation simply serves to sap the morale of the men and women who do the real work of policing London.”

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