Met commander removed from post as cannabis claims are investigated

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The Independent Online

One of the country's most controversial police officers was removed from his job yesterday while an inquiry examines claims that he smoked cannabis and allowed a boyfriend to use the drug in his flat.

Commander Brian Paddick, the country's most senior openly gay officer, said he had become a target partly because of homophobic elements within the Metropolitan Police and the press.

The 43-year-old officer is also understood to have been accused of an offence involving drugs and corruption about a month ago. The anonymous claim was investigated and proved to be false. The source of the allegations has not been established. He had previously been the subject of a false allegation that he had illegally used a police vehicle, leading to suspicion an officer in the Met had made the complaint.

Mr Paddick was taken off operational duties yesterday in Lambeth, south London, where he has pioneered a liberal approach to cannabis possession, and placed in an administrative role at Scotland Yard.

An inquiry is being set up by an officer from an outside force under the supervision of the Police Complaints Authority. It will focus on claims made by Mr Paddick's former partner James Renolleau, who said in a newspaper article for which he was paid a reported £100,000 that he had smoked at least 100 cannabis cigarettes with the senior policeman. Mr Paddick has denied smoking the drug but admitted Mr Renolleau used it in their central London flat. He faces an allegation of failing to tell his superiors that Mr Renolleau was on police bail pending a fraud investigation during their relationship.

Mr Paddick said yesterday he was victimised for two reasons. "One is political and one is homophobic. Some of the comments in the media attributed to anonymous police colleagues show there is homophobia in the police service."

The commander is also understood to believe he is at the centre of a "war" between reformers and conservative officers.

Lee Jasper, adviser to Ken Livingstone, the London Mayor, said "a degree of homophobia" within the police and media was part of the reason for the "attack on Mr Paddick's private life".

The inquiry follows talks between the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir John Stevens, an Assistant Commissioner, Mike Todd, and the Metropolitan Police Authority chairman, Lord Harris of Haringey. Lord Harris said that if the claims were proved, Mr Paddick could face dismissal. He added: "Certainly there is no question that Brian Paddick has enormous talents ... and those are talents and capabilities that the Metropolitan Police would, other things being equal, wish to retain."