Police chief invented claim of assault, court told

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The Independent Online

Britain’s most senior Asian police officer invented a claim of assault, threatened and then falsely arrested an innocent man with whom he had disagreed about a website, a court heard today.

Commander Ali Dizaei, of the Metropolitan Police, had Waad Al-Baghdadi arrested and held for more than 24 hours after the pair got into an argument outside a restaurant in west London, Southwark Crown Court was told.

Mr Dizaei, in charge of more than 5,000 officers across 10 London boroughs, then allegedly lied during police statements, claiming falsely that he had been assaulted by Al-Baghdadi.

The jury was told that Mr Dizaei, 47, threatened to ruin Mr al-Baghdadi’s life and allegedly went as far as inflicting injuries upon himself in an attempt to fool the police doctor into thinking he had been assaulted.

Outlining the prosecution case against Mr Dizaei, Peter Wright QC explained to the jury that the officer was charged with the offences of misconduct in a public office and attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Mr Wright said: "The office of constable bestows upon the office holder not only considerable power, but considerable responsibility.

"The office of constable does not involve the provision or licence to behave unfairl or dishonestly. It does not bestow the power…to pursue any citizen for a personal or oblique motive. We say that is what happened here.

"We say that the misconduct amounted to abuse of his office as a police officer in order to pursue a private dispute."

The court was told that Mr Dizaei and Mr Al-Baghdadi, a web designer, had first met in late 2007 when Mr Al-Baghdadi had agreed to design a personal website for the police officer – alidizaei.com.

But following a dispute over money – Mr Al-Baghdadi claimed he was owed £600 by Mr Dizaei – the website was taken offline and the pair had not spoken for some time when they met coincidentally on 18 July 2008 outside the Yas restaurant on Hammersmith Road, Kensington.

Mr Al-Baghdadi was walking to the restaurant for food at about 11pm when he saw Mr Dizaei in a car parked outside. He went to speak to Mr Dizaei about the officer’s failure to pay him when, the court was told, Mr Dizaei became aggressive and said: "Let’s go to the next road. I will show you."

Mr Al-Baghdadi, the court heard, declined and went into the restaurant. A few minutes later it is alleged that Mr Dizaei entered and said: "You have five minutes to leave the restaurant otherwise I will show you."

Mr Al-Baghdadi refused to leave until he was asked to do so by the owner. When this happened the web-designer left and agreed to come back later.

The court heard a recording of a 999 call that Mr Al-Baghdadi made immediately upon leaving the restaurant during which he tells the operator he is being threatened by a police commander.

The jury heard Mr Dizaei take the phone and the end of the call, asking for back up and telling the operator that he needed assistance because he was making an arrest.

After the phone call, Mr Al-Baghdadi alleges that Mr Dizaei, in full police uniform, pushed him against a wall and put him in handcuffs. The police officer is alleged to have said: "I will fuck your life. You think I do not know what you do in London? I will find every single detail about your life." He then allegedly added: "I have ten witnesses. I will show you what I can do."

Mr Dizaei then made another 999 call after which two police cars arrived. Mr Dizaei showed officers the mouthpiece of a shisha pipe, used for smoking flavoured tobaccos, and claimed he had been poked in the stomach with it. He was also holding his arm.

An inspector arrived and told the officers to look for witnesses. At this point, the prosecution alleged, Mr Dizaei spoke "a few words in Farsi and a group of Middle Eastern males who had gathered then walked away".

Mr Dizaei’s version of events was précised by the prosecution today. They say he claims he had been sworn at by Mr Al-Baghdadi and that the web designer had gesticulated at him as he sat in his car.

The officer claimed, in a police statement, that when he approached Mr Al-Baghdadi he was attacked. "He hit me on the chest very hard," the officer’s statement continued: "I looked down and saw what looked like a knife between his fingers." And the officer claimed that Mr Al-Baghdadi "tried to headbutt me twice, but he missed."

But the court was told that when examined by the police doctor, Dr Maureen Heath, Mr Dizaei’s injuries were not consistent with those that would have been inflicted by the shisha pipe he claimed he was attacked with.

Peter Wright QC, prosecuting, told the jury: "In the opinion of the doctor, the injuries noted…were more likely to be consistent with self-inflicted injury as opposed to injuries inflicted during the alleged assault."

Mr Dizaei denies the charges. The case continues.