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Iraq job lifetime chance for Gurbux Singh

By Shyam Bhatia in London
January 05, 2004 12:20 IST
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Iraq may turn out to be the salvation of the India-born former chairman of Britain's Commission of Racial Equality Gurbax Singh.

Singh is only one of four British officials to be appointed to a six-figure salary job in the new Iraqi administration being set up with the help of the US Agency for International development (USAID)

Back in 2002, Singh was fined £500 with £55 costs after he tried to head butt a police officer at Lord's cricket ground following India's thrilling victory over England in the NatWest Tri-Series final.

During his court hearing Singh admitted drinking seven glasses of wine in his private VIP box, but denied swearing, waving his hands around and clenching his fist at police.

Character witnesses who testified in court on his behalf, including Baroness Flather and MP Peter Bottomley, all said the incident at Lord's was inconsistent with the behaviour of the man they knew.

Earlier prosecutor Deborah Walsh told the court how Singh, who was reeking of alcohol and was accompanied by his Irish wife Siobhan, walked into a police officer.

She said Singh walked towards the officer with clenched fists and swore at him. "The officer said that if two males had not been holding Mr Singh back, Mr Singh would have assaulted him," she told the court.

At one point when Singh shouted he knew Ian Blair, police thought he was muddling up the name of Prime Minister Tony Blair. But in fact he was referring to the deputy head of London's metropolitan police force.

Mrs Singh was also detained, but not charged when she tried to intervene as the police tried to handcuff her husband.

District Judge Nicholas Evans, who fined Singh, commented, "This was disgraceful behaviour maintained for a relatively long period of time, quite out of character and brought about by an excess of drink."

He accepted that Singh had pleaded guilty and apologised to the police officers, noting, "When you were in a position later to reflect on your conduct, you have done the best you possibly could to make amends."

After the hearing Singh was obliged to tender his resignation from his £100,000 a year job and, although he was given a £115,000 pay off, his career was effectively over.

Now aged 52, the Iraq job is his once in a lifetime opportunity to make a comeback in public service.

Dr John Stopaford of Solace Enterprises who headhunted Singh on behalf of USAID, said he was aware of Singh's past, commenting, "We know and he knows it was a silly thing to do and he regrets it."

"We checked candidates thoroughly to make sure they had a sense of humour and would cope under stress," he added.

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