Officers cleared of racism after pounds 1m inquiry

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EIGHTEEN policemen were cleared yesterday of racism against a fellow officer following a three-year inquiry estimated to have cost pounds 1m.

The racism allegations were made in 1991 by Constable Joginder Singh Prem, a Sikh. In May last year he took his case to an industrial tribunal in Nottingham, claiming racism in the Nottinghamshire force had stopped him being promoted to sergeant. He named the individual officers as alleged offenders.

Nottinghamshire police denied the allegations but agreed to pay PC Prem pounds 25,000 compensation, plus pounds 3,000 costs in an out-of-court settlement. He also received a formal apology from the Chief Constable.

PC Prem, 39, who wears a turban, claimed he had been called a 'towel-head', 'rag- head' and 'Paki bastard' by colleagues, most of whom were senior officers. Despite having passed the exams for inspector, he was turned down for promotion to sergeant five times.

Although he had lived in Britain since the age of 10 and was a graduate, he was criticised in an appraisal for oral communication and poor grasp of English.

Three years ago, an industrial tribunal ordered Nottinghamshire Police to pay another constable, Surinder Singh, pounds 35,000 after he became the first serving police officer to sue his employers on the grounds of racial discrimination. He claimed he was called racist names and that his moves to become a detective were blocked.

Colleagues in Nottinghamshire yesterday criticised the cost of the long-running investigation by 15 officers from three forces - Lincolnshire, Leicestershire and Northamptonshire.

One said: 'These men have lived under a cloud for three years and at the end of the day they have been proved totally innocent. They have come out of it without a stain on their characters.'

The investigation into alleged racism was completed under the supervision of the Police Complaints Authority.

A statement from Nottinghamshire Police said 18 officers had been subjected to a 'thorough and detailed investigation between 1991 and 1993'.

The statement added that all were cleared, but three would be admonished for administrative matters which came to light as a result of the investigation. None was linked to racial allegations.

A Nottinghamshire police spokesman said that PC Prem's racial allegations were still denied. PC Prem is still in the force.