Police face £50,000 claim from anti-racist clerk

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The Independent Online

The City of London police force is facing a £50,000 claim for victimisation after a civilian clerk was shunned by colleagues when she complained about the racist treatment of a Somali asylum-seeker.

The City of London police force is facing a £50,000 claim for victimisation after a civilian clerk was shunned by colleagues when she complained about the racist treatment of a Somali asylum-seeker.

Two police sergeants were demoted to constables last month after Esther Thomas told senior officers she had overheard them making "offensive remarks" about asylum-seekers.

She said they had suggested in an incident last year that the best way to deal with asylum-seekers was to shoot them.

The comments were made out of earshot of a Somali woman who was visiting Bishopsgate police station to claim political asylum.

Ms Thomas also claimed the officers did not want to drive the woman to the immigration centre in Croydon. One officer was alledged to have said: "She found her own way here from Somalia, can't she find her own way back?"

Both officers were found guilty of "behaving in a derisive and racially discriminatory manner."

Since the complaint Ms Thomas, who has worked for the City police since 1994, claims she has been given the silent treatment. "It was quite subtle. When I put a call out on the radio no one would answer it, whereas in the past they would." She applied for a transfer out of City of London Police but was only offered a post as a front office inquiry clerk to the City of London CID.

After two articles appeared in The Sun newspaper earlier this month supporting the police officers she started receiving race-hate letters.

In her claim against the police for victimisation and race discrimination she said she now "fears for her health and safety." She added: "I felt vulnerable because my job involved a late shift during which time I was often working alone and therefore was potentially at risk." She has now moved to Sussex to escape the hate mail.

A third police officer, a woman, who was also disciplined, was fined £700.

In an article on 6 July The Sun asked readers to send cheques to News International to help pay the police officer's fine.

Lawrence Davies, Ms Thomas's solicitor, said the Somali woman had not been seen since the police dropped her at Elephant and Castle in south London. "She is clearly a missing person and yet as far as we know there is no missing person's file on her."

Mr Davies, who is also the manager of the London race discrimination unit, said: "Ms Thomas has been left with no choice but to go into hiding."

Mr Davies said Ms Thomas was claiming a five-figure sum in compensation. Ms Thomas has also taken advice from a barrister on whether she could sue The Sun.

A spokeswoman for City of London Police confirmed that they had recieved a copy of the "originating application" to an employment tribunal hearing. She said: "All City police officers are bound by the new code of conduct, which came into force in April last year."

She added that both police officers would appeal against the disciplinary findings.

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