Brian Paddick: A bad day for race relations in the police

Share
Related Topics

I first met Ali Dizaei in 1999 during three days of tests and interviews to get on a course that would be our ticket to the highest ranks in the police service. Even then his reputation preceded him. As the outspoken head of the Black Police Association he had been justifiably critical of the police service's, at times, half-hearted attempts to tackle racism within its ranks and institutions.

The "leaderless discussion" exercised the question – ironically, bearing in mind the case that has just concluded – whether it was ever justified not to tell the truth.

One of the other candidates challenged Ali's assertion that telling lies was never justified "... surely you've told your children to believe in Father Christmas?" to which the Muslim Dizaei replied pointedly: "Actually, I don't believe in Christmas."

He subsequently complained in a conference speech that some of the tests we had been put through were culturally biased. For example, in the general knowledge test, one of the questions was "Who is Bart Simpson's mother?" something many Muslims would apparently not know.

If ever there was a "Marmite" senior officer, it was Ali Dizaei. Many hated him, believing he had "got away with it" because "he was black". But for the Black Police Association, he was their flag-bearer.

He was an undoubted champion for racial equality, but his approach was sometimes aggressive and confrontational when dealing with "the establishment". Ali Dizaei's MO was getting things done by upsetting people in authority who did not address his own race agenda.

He was clearly knowledgeable on race issues and when it came to my interview for promotion to Commander, I went to see him in his office at Kensington Police Station.

I did not realise our conversation was being bugged as part of an extraordinary operation by the Met to prove that he was corrupt: at one stage they planned a sting operation while Dizaei was in Canada, which attempted to involve him in drug dealing.

But despite their best efforts and being put on trial (twice), he was acquitted (twice). When the remaining disciplinary issues against him were dropped, he was paid compensation and given permission to write a book about his mistreatment as part of the deal that allowed him to resume his career in the Met. It was partly a political settlement to keep the Black Police Association on side, driven by the Home Office. He was eventually promoted to Commander.

Dizaei was also at the heart of the campaign to support Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur, who openly accused the former Met Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair of racism. That issue became entwined with the recent investigation which led to Dizaei's conviction. It resulted in the Black Police Association withdrawing support for the Met's efforts to recruit more black and minority ethnic police officers.

Ali Dizaei was clearly a thorn in the side of the Met. It was widely believed that Tarique Ghaffur's evidence at one of Dizaei's trials, in which he said the Met had a vendetta against Ali, played a crucial role in his acquittal, putting both men on a collision course with the Met. Both men had some justification for believing minority officers were getting a raw deal but both men adopted high-risk strategies to bring about change.

I do not believe those at the top of the Met were bright enough or brave enough to ensnare Dizaei and bring him down. It appears that it was Dizaei's own forcefulness, and his sometimes over-developed belief in his status and authority, that did for him.

Many at Scotland Yard, and those who have since retired like Andy Hayman and Sir Ian Blair who oversaw the original Dizaei investigation, will be celebrating his demise. For me its an ill-wind that blows no one any good, with both the Met and the Black Police Association having been damaged in the process.

The actions of Dizaei and his imprisonment will do little to improve race relations in the police service or improve public confidence in the police.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, Graduate, SQL, VBA)

£45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, ...

Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Perl, Bash, SQL)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Per...

C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB6, WinForms)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB...

C# Developer (Genetic Algorithms, .NET 4.5, TDD, SQL, AI)

£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Jihadist militants leading away captured Iraqi soldiers in Tikrit, Iraq, in June  

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Robert Fisk
India's philosopher, environmental activist, author and eco feminist Vandana Shiva arrives to give a press conference focused on genetically modified seeds on October 10, 2012  

Meet Vandana Shiva: The deserving heir to Mahatma Ghandi's legacy

Peter Popham
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home