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UK racism row: Asian cop suspended

September 10, 2008 00:31 IST

The seniormost Asian officer in London's Metropolitan Police was on Tuesday suspended from his job after he accused the head of the force of racial discrimination.

Tarique Ghaffur, assistant commissioner of police, who is at the centre of a row following his accusation that he has been racially discriminated by Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair, has been stripped of his duties and put on gardening leave, the Scotland Yard said.

Sir Ian announced that Ghaffur had been placed on 'authorised leave' because his public statements about his case were affecting the 'operational effectiveness' of the force.

However, the decision will further fuel the civil war between the two senior officers, as Ghaffur claims he has been victimised and pushed out of his job.

The British-Asian had last month announced his plans to engage private security, claiming he had received threats to his life. He chose not to notify Scotland Yard formally of the death threats as he felt he could no longer trust the Met to protect him.

Ghaffur, 53 has also started employment tribunal proceedings against the commissioner. Sir Ian is also at the centre of an inquiry into allegations that he influenced the award of police contracts to a close friend.

Uganda-born Ghaffur, whose parents were from Pakistan, arrived in Britain in the early 1970s. Ghaffur, who has sought compensation of 1 million pound, claimed Sir Blair had discriminated against him "over a long period of time" and sidelined him from his job in charge of security for the 2012 Olympics.

Ghaffur will keep his rank, but no longer be part of the Met's Central Operations Directorate, the Olympic Games security team or a member of the management board.

He will be paid his 180,000 pounds annual salary pending the outcome of the tribunal and the end of his contract next May.

Sir Ian insisted the decision had nothing to do with Ghaffur's employment tribunal case, in which he is seeking an unprecedented 1 million pounds in damages.

"For the avoidance of doubt, the decision has nothing to do with his actions in filing the employment tribunal application or the fact that he has made the allegations which are the subject matter of the employment tribunal claim," Ian said.

The Met chief said it was instead down to the officer's 'personal conduct' and his 'media campaign' against the force.

He claimed the situation was affecting the effectiveness of the Metropolitan Police Service and the security and safety concerns of Londoners.

"Accordingly, I have decided that, for the time being, AC Tarique Ghaffur be temporarily relieved of his responsibilities although he will remain an assistant commissioner in the Metropolitan Police Service," he said.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson backed the move, saying it was in the best interests of policing in London.

"This is a necessary move in order to restore confidence that the operational efficiency of the Met Police is not compromised," he said.

Ghaffur lodged papers at an employment tribunal last month, claiming he has been the victim of racial, religious and age discrimination.

Twice-married Ghaffur accuses Sir Ian of plotting to oust him and discriminating against him on the grounds of race, religion and age.

H S Rao in London
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