The most senior Metropolitan police officer to be charged with corruption in 34 years went on trial today accused of abusing his office like a “bully” to arrest a man and falsely claim he was assaulted.
Prosecutors say Commander Jamshid Ali Dezaei, a former president of the National Black Police Association, committed “wholesale abuse” of his powers as a police officer when he arrested Waad al-Baghdadi in July 2008 following an argument.
The court heard how events centred around a dispute between the pair outside the Yas Persian restaurant on the Hammersmith Road. Mr al-Baghdadi, 28, had been trying to speak to Commander Dizaei when the confrontation took place because he was owed money over a personal website he had built for the 49-year-old police officer, jurors were told.
Peter Wright QC, prosecuting, said the Iraqi-born web designer was seeking £600 for work done on AliDizaei.com, a personal website that Commander Dizaei had commissioned him to build
The pair remonstrated with each other inside and outside the restaurant before Mr al-Baghdadi walked away to his car. He was then chased by Commander Dizaei and was arrested in what prosecutors described as “a total fabrication”.
“We allege the criminal misconduct on his [Dizaei's] part was purporting to act as a police officer protecting citizens,” Mr Wright said. “He was in fact pursuing a citizen for his own personal motive.”
Commander Dizaei, who rose to become one of the Met's most senior ethnic minority police officers in overall charge of ten borough commanders, is charged with one count of misconduct in public office. He has also been charged with perverting the course of justice by making up a series of lies to justify Mr al-Baghdadi's arrest in the hours afterwards.
The £90,000 a year senior officer, who wore a navy blue suit with a white shirt, denies all charges against him. His trial, which is expected to last five weeks, is a retrial.
Mr Justice Saunders reminded jurors to try the case only on the evidence presented to them in court. "You will hear that this is a retrial because it may be that witnesses will be asked what was said at the previous trial,” he said. "You are not concerned with what happened at that trial, nor are you concerned with any other hearing."
Commander Dizaei claims he arrested Mr al-Baghdadi because he had become abusive and attacked him with the mouthpiece of a shisha pipe. He was held in custody for 24 hours and remained on bail until September.
Jurors were shown CCTV images of the pair arguing outside the Yas restaurant resulting in Mr al-Baghdadi walking away to collect his car on nearby Avonmore Road. As he walked he made an eight minute call to the emergency services alleging that Commander Dizaei had threatened him.
The phone call, which was played to the jury, ends with Commander Dizaei talking to the police operator and informing her that he is about to make an arrest.
The prosecution say that the phone call reveals that while Mr al-Baghdadi was “anxious and alarmed” there is no suggestion in those eight minutes that he had assaulted Commander Dizaei.
Meanwhile the prosecution said they would introduce evidence from Dr Maureen Heath, a police medical examiner, who wrote that Commander Dizaei’s injuries were “consistent with self-inflicted injuries.”
Opening the prosecution’s argument, Mr Wright said it would be up to the jury to decide whether Commander Dizaei had legitimately arrested Mr al-Baghdadi or not.
“[This case] involved bullying, intimidating and threatening,” he said. “As citizens of this country we entrust those appointed as police officers with considerable powers. With the granting of power there comes attendant obligation - the obligation to discharge the power bestowed on the officer fairly, impartially and honestly without fear or favour, prejudice or disfavour. It does not involve the use of these powers to pursue a fellow citizen for a personal, or what may be described as, an oblique motive.”
The trial continues.