Brian Paddick, the controversial police commander being investigated for alleged drug offences, is considering suing the Metropolitan Police for discriminating against him because he is gay.
Mr Paddick, 43, who has been moved to a desk job during the disciplinary inquiry, has taken soundings about whether he could use the Human Rights Act to claim damages if he is sacked or demoted. He has accused sections of his force and the press of adopting a homophobic attitude towards him and trying to undermine his work.
The Metropolitan Police Authority has ordered an investigation into allegations, which Mr Paddick denies, made by his former partner that he smoked cannabis. The inquiry will also examine Mr Paddick's admission that he allowed James Renolleau to smoke cannabis in his flat and breached police guidelines by not informing his superiors that his partner was on bail while they were having a relationship.
Mr Paddick, the architect of a pilot scheme in south London to let off with a verbal warning anyone caught with a small amount of cannabis, is understood to have been in talks with friends and colleagues about the possibility of legal action. But he stressed yesterday: "I have made no decision about whether or not to sue the Met. I'm not threatening legal action at this stage." Mr Paddick is considering whether the Human Rights Act could be used to bring a claim of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Under the Act there is no specific law that protects people from discrimination because they are gay. But it might be possible to use one of the Act's provisions, such as the right to a private life, if it could be shown that discrimination had caused that right to be breached.
Mr Paddick, Britain's most senior openly gay officer, says he is determined to get back his job as divisional commander of Lambeth. Yesterday he met Gordon Clark, the Deputy Chief Constable of Humberside, who has been brought in to head the police inquiry.Reuse content