Snub for black police in gallantry awards

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The Independent Online
TWO black undercover police officers who were shot in the line of duty have been overlooked for gallantry awards in what the Police Federation described as a racist snub which left it "staggered and disgusted".

The officers were seconded from the Metropolitan Police to try and smash a network of crack dealers in the Handsworth area of Birmingham. While posing as drug buyers, they were both shot in a struggle with three men.

Yesterday Mike Bennett, chairman of the Police Federation for the Metropolitan Police area, said the officers deserved the George Medal for Gallantry, the second highest civilian award for gallantry after the George Cross.

He condemned the West Midlands Police's failure to nominate the men, and said: "If it's not racism, it's the biggest case of hypocrisy you will ever come across. I would be in despair if this was a racism incident, but I must tell you that both of the officers concerned think it is."

He said the case was a bad advertisement for the police, and would not help recruit more officers from the ethnic minorities.

Mr Bennett has written to the Home Secretary, Jack Straw, saying he was "staggered and disgusted" at the manner in which the officers were treated.

The officers, who were unarmed and using the cover names Philip and Martin, were attacked while sitting in a parked car in the Soho Road area of Birmingham at 7.30pm one evening in October 1994.

As they waited for a dealer they had arranged to meet they were approached by two men who, after asking for a light, tried to steal the car keys.

In the struggle that followed Philip, the driver, was shot in his calf. Martin attacked the gunman and was also shot in the leg. Philip, despite his injury, rushed to Martin's aid, knocked the gunman down, and sat on him. He was kicked in the face by another man and shot. The attackers ran off but three men were arrested later, and jailed for periods of 12, eight and five years.

The officers are now suing the West Midlands Chief Constable after having to leave the police because of their injuries.

A West Midlands Police spokesman said: "The Chief Constable and the trial judge in criminal proceedings have already commended both officers for their bravery."