Black policeman was passed over for promotion 56 times

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The Independent Online
A black policeman waiting for promotion was passed over 56 times, a tribunal was told yesterday. Chief Inspector Martin Harding, now Greater Manchester Police's highest-ranking black officer, believed he was unfairly held back while white and female colleagues jumped the queue.

The 39-year-old, who joined the force as a cadet in 1974, accused Greater Manchester Police of racial and sexual discrimination. The tribunal in Manchester heard how, after five years as an inspector, he was found suitable for promotion by a board in 1992. But he was not appointed as chief inspector at Longsight Police Station until last February - when he had already filed a discrimination complaint.

During his three years and eight months waiting in the wings, 56 chief inspectors' posts came up in the force all of which, Greater Manchester Police told the hearing, he was considered for.

According to the evidence of Assistant Chief Constable David McCrone, read at the hearing by Ch Insp Harding's representative, Paul Gilroy, only 12 of the successful applicants for the post had passed their promotion boards before him. Of four other officers, all white and one female, who passed their board on the same day as Ch Insp Harding, three had been promoted within six months and all within a year, the tribunal was told.

"I accept that the force can only promote when there's a vacancy, but I maintain I was denied promotion on several occasions because of my race and because of my sex," the chief inspector said.

He outlined his 23-year career, which included a period as a trainee detective after which, he said, he was promised the next CID vacancy. "But that never happened."

He also spent four years, first as a sergeant and then an inspector, with the force's elite Tactical Aid Unit dealing with security and was trained to handle bomb scenes and air crashes.

The tribunal heard that he was turned down from a catalogue of chief inspector positions, all for various reasons.

He accused Greater Manchester Police of "changing the goalposts" to keep him out and said: "I do not expect that these are genuine reasons. I believe that they were made after the event to justify decisions that were in fact taken on a discriminatory basis."

Mr Gilroy read from a Greater Manchester Police guide to promotion candidates which stated: "Once a person is accepted, he or she will be promoted within 12 to 18 months."

Ch Insp Harding who claims compensation for discrimination, said: "I believe that Had I been a woman or a white officer, I would have been promoted more quickly."

The hearing continues today, when Ch Insp Harding is due to be cross- examined.