Dobson's deputy sparks row over `police racism'

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The Independent Online
FRANK DOBSON'S campaign to become mayor of London hit fresh controversy yesterday when his deputy compared the Metropolitan Police to South Africa under apartheid.

Trevor Phillips triggered the fury of the Police Federation by calling for a new inquiry into racism in the force and suggested setting up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission similar to the South African model. In an essay published by a left-leaning think-tank, Mr Phillips, who would become chairman of the new Metropolitan Police Authority if Mr Dobson wins, said there was "nothing so exceptional" in the murder of the black teenager Stephen Lawrence, adding that there were "another hundred or perhaps a thousand such young thugs in London who could equally have carried out that attack".

He claimed the Met's problems were "systemic" and a new inquiry into racism should offer amnesty for those officers who would otherwise refuse to reveal their involvement .

Glen Smyth, chairman of the London Police Federation, said he represented the largest number of black and Asian officers in the country, and "the vast majority would find Mr Phillips' suggestion at best unpleasant and at worst vitriolic nonsense".

In a separate development, Michael Portillo angered Labour MPs by referring in the House of Commons yesterday to reports that Mr Dobson was suffering from depression. The newly elected Tory MP drew shouts of "cheap" when he said he realised that Mr Dobson had "not been well recently".

Ken Livingstone, Mr Dobson's main rival for the Labour candidacy, reveals today in an article in The Independent, that he expects a significant expansion of mayoral powers, to include health and further education, after the Greater London Authority's first four years.