Yard condemned for 'grievous errors' over race bias case

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The Independent Online

Scotland Yard was damned yesterday in an independent report for its handling of accusations of misconduct against one of its most senior ethnic minority officers. The Independent Police Complaints Commission said the Metropolitan Police made "grievous errors" in the "seriously flawed" way it investigated the behaviour of Superintendent Ali Dizaei.

Scotland Yard was damned yesterday in an independent report for its handling of accusations of misconduct against one of its most senior ethnic minority officers. The Independent Police Complaints Commission said the Metropolitan Police made "grievous errors" in the "seriously flawed" way it investigated the behaviour of Superintendent Ali Dizaei.

Supt Dizaei was acquitted of perverting the course of justice during two trials at the Old Bailey last year over claims he made about racist damage to his car. A charge of fiddling £270 mileage expenses was also dropped.

The failed prosecution followed a four-year investigation his supporters described as a "racist witchhunt" against the Iranian-born officer, once tipped as a future chief constable.

During the inquiry, codenamed Helios, eight surveillance officers spent months bugging Supt Dizaei's phone and following his movements.

Later, Supt Dizaei apologised for falling below standards by making a threatening phone call to a former girlfriend and lying about the location of his car when it was damaged. He returned to duty in October last year with £80,000 compensation and sent on a senior course.

Yesterday, IPCC chairman Nick Hardwick said: "We are critical of the way the MPS handled this matter from start to finish." Len Jackson, one of three commissioners who reviewed the case, said: "The Metropolitan Police Service's advertising strap-line is 'Integrity is not negotiable'. Perhaps, in this case, it was."

But Supt Dizaei did not escape unscathed. The IPCC recommended that the 41-year-old be stripped of his latest promotion to temporary chief superintendent. He should be made to prove he had learned a lesson, and his own conduct should be beyond reproach for at least a year after his return to work before any advancement be considered, it said. He is also to be given advice, the lowest form of police censure.

The new commission was announcing the results of its review into a decision by its own predecessor, the Police Complaints Authority.

This year, the PCA told New Scotland Yard to take disciplinary action against Supt Dizaei despite a private agreement with the officer. Senior officers reacted angrily and wrote to the new IPCC saying such action would be perceived by some as proof that the disciplinary system was racist.

In keeping with a case that has been marked with dead ends and U-turns, the IPPC declared yesterday it had decided to overturn the PCA's direction. In what it insisted was the "commonsense" option, the commission said it was in the public interest to draw a line under the matter.

They said it was time the Metropolitan force concentrated on policing London rather than pursuing one of its own.

Clive Morris, vice president of the National Black Police Association, welcomed the decision. He said: "It is now a matter of public record that the investigation into Supt Dizaei ... was disproportionate, appears to be racially motivated and a total waste of £7m of tax payers money. It is an example of incompetence and racism."