Met hit by new racism allegation

Man uses mobile phone to record tirade of alleged abuse from officer while he was held in back of van
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The Independent Online

The Metropolitan Police is at the centre of a racism claim after a suspect used his mobile phone to record officers allegedly abusing him.

One officer has been suspended after allegedly being heard on the recording calling the 21-year-old arrested man "a nigger".

The suspect had been arrested while driving through Beckton, east London, on 11 August last year, when police had flooded the area because of the London riots.

While in a police van the suspect turned on the record facility of his mobile phone and accused an officer of kneeling on his chest and "strangling" him. The man claimed he had started the recording because the officer, named by a newspaper as PC Alex MacFarlane, had made sexual remarks about his mother and said she would be dead in five years.

In response to the suspect's accusation the officer is said to have called him a "scumbag" and a "c***" and told him: "The problem with you is you will always be a nigger."

In further exchanges, in which the arrested man calls out the officer's identity number, the policeman was recorded saying: "You'll always have black skin colour. Don't hide behind your colour, yeah. Be proud. Be proud of who you are, yeah. Don't hide behind your black skin."

After an investigation carried out by the Independent Police Complaints Commission, a report was passed the the Crown Prosecution Service which reportedly decided that no charges should be brought.

Grace Ononiwu, the deputy chief crown prosecutor for CPS London, has now ordered that the decision be reconsidered after the arrested man's lawyers threatened legal action.

"Lawyers for the complainant have written to the CPS and asked us to review our decision. I have considered the matter personally and directed that all of the evidence should be reconsidered and a fresh decision taken by a senior lawyer with no previous involvement in this matter," she said. "That process will be completed as soon as possible, and is the procedure we often adopt when pre-action protocol judicial review proceedings are initiated."

Michael Oswald, the man's solicitor, told The Guardian: "By his own efforts our client has put before the CPS exceptionally strong evidence and we share his astonishment that the CPS have reached a decision that no police officer should be prosecuted on the basis of that evidence. We do welcome their agreement to review that decision and we now await the outcome of that review."

The arrested man told the paper that racial abuse eroded self-worth. "It's hard to explain, but it makes you feel like a piece of shit – it makes you feel not even human," he said.

The Metropolitan Police confirmed last night that three officers had been investigated over the allegations and that one of them had been suspended pending the result of the IPCC investigation. One of the others was on restricted duties in relation to a separate matter while the third was working as usual.