Corrupt police chief Ali Dizaei jailed again


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The Independent Online

The career of Britain's most controversial police chief was ended today after he was jailed for corruption for a second time - but he could be freed in three months.

Scotland Yard commander Ali Dizaei, 49, will never wear police uniform again following his conviction at a retrial for misconduct and perverting the course of justice.

Dizaei was first found guilty in 2010 of framing young businessman Waad al-Baghdadi in a street row.

But he walked out of Leyhill open prison a year later after the Court of Appeal quashed the conviction.

Guilty verdicts for a second time mean there is now no way back for the senior officer, who created a web of lies to cover his tracks.

He received a three-year prison sentence at London's Southwark Crown Court today, although this will be reduced by the 15 months he has already spent behind bars.

Passing sentence, the judge, Mr Justice Saunders, said Dizaei used his position and power to arrest Mr al-Baghdadi over a private dispute.

He told the policeman: "You are a very senior officer. The breach of trust that the public has placed in you is the more serious because of your senior appointment.

"You have been a role model to many other people as a result of your achievements as a police officer."

Iranian-born Dizaei, from Acton, west London, was jailed for four years after being convicted of the same offences in February 2010.

His barrister, Stephen Riordan QC, said his time in prison was "extremely difficult" because of his job as a high-profile police officer.

He told the court that Dizaei was assaulted and admitted to hospital twice while serving his original sentence.

Mr Justice Saunders said he took into account this and the time that the senior officer spent on bail awaiting his second trial in passing a shorter sentence today.

Dizaei is expected to serve half of his sentence, meaning he is likely to be released from jail within three months.

The judge said a hearing would be held at a later date to decide how much the policeman should pay towards the costs of the prosecution and his defence team.

Dizaei's solicitor Imran Khan, of Manchester-based law firm Lewis, Hymanson and Small, said he planned to challenge his conviction.

Speaking on the steps of the court, Mr Khan said: "He is extremely disappointed at the decision and we shall be appealing straightaway."

Despite new evidence about Mr al-Baghdadi's immigration status, the jury of four women and eight men was not swayed by Dizaei's denials.

After a month-long trial, they unanimously found he attacked the young Iraqi businessman before arresting and attempting to frame him.

The convictions spell the end of Dizaei's career spanning three decades.

He won his job back with the Metropolitan Police before the retrial but has been suspended on his full salary of £90,000.

Dizaei previously emerged unscathed from a series of inquiries over the years, including a multimillion-pound undercover operation examining claims of corruption, fraud and dishonesty.

But the attempt to frame a man who pestered him for payment over a website exposed him as a violent bully and liar who abused his position.

Dizaei will remain a senior police officer until the bureaucratic formal process of throwing him out of the force can be completed.

He will then be sacked for gross misconduct and could face losing all or part of his pension under further measures aimed at punishing corrupt officers.

The heard that the officer and the young Iraqi met by chance in the Persian Yas restaurant, run by Dizaei's friend Sohrab Eshragi, in Hammersmith Road, west London, on July 18 2008.

Mr al-Baghdadi approached Dizaei and asked for £600 he was owed for building a website showcasing his career, press interviews and speeches.

This angered Dizaei, who had just eaten a meal with his wife after attending a ceremony at New Scotland Yard for new recruits.

The officer confronted the younger man in a nearby sidestreet, where a scuffle took place and Mr al-Baghdadi was roughly arrested and handcuffed.

In one of two 999 calls, Dizaei asked an operator for "urgent assistance" before starting to arrest Mr al-Baghdadi.

When officers arrived, Dizaei handed them the metal mouthpiece of a shisha pipe, held on Mr al-Baghdadi's key ring, and claimed he had been stabbed with it.

But a doctor at Hammersmith police station concluded that two red marks on the officer's torso were probably self-inflicted and did not match the pipe.

Dizaei told colleagues he had been attacked, leaving Mr al-Baghdadi in custody for 24 hours and ultimately facing prosecution.

Born in Tehran in 1962, Dizaei was brought up in a family steeped in policing with a father who headed the traffic police and an assistant commissioner grandfather.

He said police work was his destiny and joined Thames Valley Police after attending boarding school and City University Law School.

He moved to the Metropolitan Police in 1999 and progressed through the ranks, reaching the level of commander.

Wearing a dark blue suit with a pale blue shirt and a purple striped tie, Dizaei stood without making any reaction as the jury foreman read out the guilty verdicts.

Gaon Hart, from the Crown Prosecution Service's special crime and counter-terrorism division, said after the hearing: "Dizaei's corruption, which would be deplorable in any police officer, was all the more so given his position as a highly ranked commander.

"The public entrust the police with considerable powers and with that comes considerable responsibility. Dizaei abused that power and ignored that responsibility."

Deborah Glass, deputy chair of the Independent Police Complaints Commission, added: "There is no room in the police for corrupt officers, and today's verdict underlines that."

A small group of Dizaei's supporters mounted a protest as Ms Glass left the court building, heckling her and giving her a slow handclap.