Asian officer wins £840,000 compensation

Cleveland Police forced to make payout for racism that blighted traffic officer's career

Considering his ordeal over the past 17 years, Sultan Alam has surprising advice for a young Asian man or woman considering joining the police: "Do it. But do so with your eyes open because no one should think they cannot break the glass ceiling in any organisation."

Yesterday Mr Alam, a retired traffic officer with Cleveland Police, was awarded more than £840,000 for loss of earnings and damages after staging a one-man battle against his former employer dating back to 1994.

In that time the 49-year-old father of two lost his career, his marriage and reputation. He suffered psychological illness and spent nine months in jail – the victim of a malicious prosecution by Cleveland Police after he complained of racist behaviour within the force.

When he was in prison he was repeatedly moved for his own safety and on one occasion was threatened by a gang with a knife.

In admitting liability and agreeing to pay him the substantial figure yesterday, the force effectively conceded that had his career not been curtailed when he was wrongly jailed for conspiring to handle stolen car parts in 1996, he might have risen to the rank of superintendent, making him one of the most senior Asian officers in Britain.

But speaking to The Independent after his victory yesterday, Mr Alam said racism continued to exist within the ranks of his former colleagues, and that he feared he was still being watched by Cleveland officers. "It has not changed to this day and it won't change until it is taken apart and swallowed up by North Yorkshire and County Durham," he said.

Mr Alam was just one of three Asian officers when he joined in Middlesbrough in the 1980s. He was subjected to offensive name calling culminating with a Klu Klux Klan poster being left at his desk. "This all happened because I wanted to be treated as an equal in the police service," he said.

Following his decision to take the former Chief Constable to an employment tribunal, he found himself under surveillance for alleged car ringing. He was tried, convicted and sentenced to 18 months in prison. After his release he worked as a taxi driver, and uncovered evidence that fellow officers had deliberately suppressed vital evidence that could have led to his acquittal.

The Court of Appeal quashed the verdict against him in 2007. He returned to the force but in 2009 was forced to retire on health grounds. Four officers faced charges including perjury and perverting the course of justice but the case against them collapsed. One of them is still serving with Cleveland Police.

Looking back on his battle, Mr Alam said he never considered giving up. "It was never about the money. It's about the principle. It's about what's right," he said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Sport
Seth Rollins cashes in his Money in the Bank contract to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
WWERollins wins the WWE World Heavyweight title in one of the greatest WrestleMania's ever seen
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Jay Z has placed a bet on streaming being the future for music and videos
music
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
News
(David Sandison)
newsHow living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: 3rd Line IT Support / Senior Engineer / Support Analyst

£24000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Executive - OTE £60,000

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Recognised as one of the fastes...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager - Refrigeration

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of refrigeration, mechan...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Finance Manager - Central London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor