Top Muslim policeman preparing for race tribunal

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The Independent Online

The UK's most senior Muslim police officer is in the final stages of preparing a racial discrimination case against Scotland Yard.

Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur has had legal documents drawn up accusing colleagues of a catalogue of victimisation, bullying and harassment.

Some of the allegations refer directly to the actions of Commissioner Sir Ian Blair and Police Authority chair Len Duvall, sources said.

One senior colleague said relations between Mr Ghaffur and Sir Ian were so bad that the two men will not speak to each other.

Mr Ghaffur, who is responsible for security at the 2012 Olympics, has employed a senior barrister to draw up legal papers.

He is now in the final stages of considering whether to formally submit them to the force and commence an employment tribunal.

Mr Ghaffur also claimed he was discriminated against when his contract was extended for only one year, unlike senior colleagues.

The senior officer believes this undermined his role in preparations for the Olympic sporting extravaganza.

Ali Dizaei, president of the National Black Police Association, said he was aware of Mr Ghaffur's concerns.

He said: "It will be a sad day for the police service if one of the UK's most respected senior ethnic minority police officers is forced to challenge his treatment in court.

"The negative effect of such an action on recruitment and on trust and confidence in policing, in particular with minority ethnic communities, will be significant and cannot be under-estimated."

Mr Ghaffur, who was speaking at the Association of Chief Police Officers annual conference in Liverpool today, refused to comment.

"I'm not able to say a word. I can't comment," he said.

The news came as Sir Ian was accused of excluding black and Asian detectives in favour of a "golden circle" of white officers.

Commander Shabir Hussain, 45, claimed he was passed over for promotion by Sir Ian, who used his influence to earmark others.

Speaking at a London employment tribunal yesterday, he said: "My face did not fit and did not fit because I am not white."

The senior officer claimed he was rejected an "unprecedented" four times for promotion to Deputy Assistant Commissioner while others succeeded.

Earlier this month, Sergeant Gurpal Virdi, a Sikh detective, was awarded £70,400 in damages.

A tribunal ruled that he had been passed over for promotion because he had brought race discrimination claims against the force.

The claims are the latest controversy to hit Sir Ian, following the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes, the Forest Gate raid and a number of ill-judged comments.

They threaten to engulf the Metropolitan Police in its biggest race row since the Stephen Lawrence murder.

Stephen, 18, was stabbed to death near his home in Eltham, south east London, by a gang of racist thugs in 1993. No-one has ever been convicted of his murder.

The McPherson inquiry into the investigation of the death labelled the force "institutionally racist" in 1999.

It led to wholesale changes in the way the UK's biggest force handled inquiries, recruited officers and handled staff.

Mr Ghaffur is the most high-profile Muslim officer in the UK and was recently made responsible for preparations for security at the 2012 Olympics.

He began his career with Greater Manchester Police and has served with the National Crime Squad and the Leicestershire, Lancashire and Metropolitan Police forces.

In London he has worked as Westminster borough commander, as the head of the force's performance and standards department and, most recently, specialist crime.