John Grieve, the head of the Metropolitan Police's hate crimes unit, has been called in to investigate a homophobic smear campaign against Commander Brian Paddick, the country's most senior openly gay police officer.
DAC Grieve, the deputy assistant commissioner of the Met, is to look at allegations that Mr Paddick has been targeted by anti-gay officers.
Highly respected within the Met, Mr Grieve is conducting the reinvestigation into the murder of Stephen Lawrence.
Mr Paddick was moved from his job in charge of policing in Lambeth, south London, to a desk job at Scotland Yard last week after lurid allegations were made by his former lover.
James Renolleau, a former cashier at Westminster Abbey who has now fled the country, claimed Mr Paddick smoked cannabis and indulged in promiscuous sex. Both accusations are vigorously denied by Mr Paddick.
The Police Complaints Authority has now been instructed to look into the allegations. This inquiry, by an outside police force, is being carried out at the same time as Mr Grieve's investigation into homophobia in the Met.
Police sources said that Mr Paddick's suspension from regular duties was expected to last at least six months.
Mr Paddick pioneered a scheme in Brixton, south London, in which cannabis users were given on-the-spot warnings instead of being arrested. A Met study into the scheme shows that 1,350 hours of police time have been saved since it began last July.
Also, a poll of residents commissioned from Mori by the Police Foundation, an independent research charity, found that eight in 10 people supported the scheme.
A spokeswoman for Mr Grieve said that it was completely inappropriate for him to comment when a police investigation was going on by an outside force. However, a police source confirmed that Mr Grieve had become involved in an investigation into a homophobic smear campaign against Mr Paddick, which began several months ago. It is understood Mr Grieve agreed to take on the case after being approached directly by Mr Paddick.
The Lesbian and Gay Policing Association said that homophobia is "an issue" within the police force. "The problem is convincing the rank and file officers who are so complacent," said Stephen Warwick, the association's spokesman. "I believe Brian Paddick is correct that in no small part his removal from his post is induced by homophobia."
Mr Paddick has had widespread support from the Lambeth community. A rally will be held this week calling for his reinstatement by the borough's Community Police Consultative Group.
Senior members of the Government have also contacted Mr Paddick to express their support. These include Tessa Jowell, the Secretary of State for Culture, and Ben Bradshaw, a junior Foreign Office minister and leading campaigner for gay rights.Reuse content