Yard discriminated against Asian officer sacked in race mail affair

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The Independent Online

An Asian police officer who was sacked for sending racist hate mail to himself and colleagues yesterday won his claim for racial discrimination against the Metropolitan Police.

An Asian police officer who was sacked for sending racist hate mail to himself and colleagues yesterday won his claim for racial discrimination against the Metropolitan Police.

The force discriminated against Sergeant Gurpal Virdi in the way it investigated allegations that he had sent letters signed with the initials of the National Front to racial minority officers, an employment tribunal ruled.

Mr Virdi was sacked when an internal investigation found him guilty of sending the notes, but the tribunal found there was no evidence he was responsible.

Officers and civilian workers at Ealing police station in west London received the letters, which contained a computer- generated image of a black man and the message "keep the police service white", in December 1997 and January 1998.

A criminal investigation was dropped when the Crown Prosecution Service dismissed allegations that he distributed racist material. But he was found guilty in the Met's disciplinary hearing of sending the material to 13 non-white officers and six civilian workers and was later sacked.

Yesterday the tribunal ruled there was no evidence to support that verdict and found that the investigation discriminated against Mr Virdi.

During the inquiry, Mr Virdi's home was searched and his diary, his child's computer, and his wife's press cuttings on the Stephen Lawrence case were confiscated. The tribunal found that Mr Virdi had been treated differently from a white female officer, Constable Jackie Bachelor, who was also a suspect in the investigation. It found that as well as the search of his home, the Met attempted to entrap him in a taped interview in February 1998 and failed to interview him in an informal way, as it did PC Bachelor.

The tribunal concluded: "The explanations put forward by the respondents, the Metropolitan Police, as representing good investigation practice are not sustainable or justifiable. We therefore infer and conclude that the reason for their failures is not incompetence but is because of [Sergeant] Virdi's race."

Speaking after the ruling, Mr Virdi, 41, of Cranford, Middlesex, said it was a "great achievement" but was "round one" of a fight that would now continue with a claim for unfair dismissal, an appeal to the commissioner of the Met and another appeal to the Home Secretary. He called for the resignation of some senior officers who he said had let the system down. His wife, Sathat, 35, said: "We had the most powerful weapon on our side, which was the truth and today we celebrate that fact."

Yesterday, the Acting Commissioner of the Met, Ian Blair, said the force had accepted the decision. "We have reviewed the judgement and will not be appealing against it. It is time to draw a line under this story," he said.

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