British police chief denies race bias against Asian officer

July 11th, 2008 - 1:51 pm ICT by IANS  

London, July 11 (IANS) Ian Blair, head of London’s Metropolitan Police, has denied charges of racism made by an officer of Asian origin. Commander Shabbir Husain, the Metropolitan Police’s third senior-most officer, had filed a lawsuit against Blair, claiming that he had been overlooked for promotion on four occasions because he happened to be of Asian origin.

Blair Thursday attended the tribunal hearing of the case that has rocked Scotland Yard as well as the government, whose race discrimination policies now rest on the outcome of the lawsuit.

Blair, who prides himself in making the police force more representational, told the tribunal: “It is inconceivable that I would seek to block the promotion of a senior minority ethnic officer and any suggestion to that effect would be seen as an extraordinary aberration. I refute it totally.”

He said the Asian officer had not been promoted because more able candidates had been chosen. However, he did admit to losing his temper with Hussain. Blair said he raised his voice at a meeting over a multi-billion pound project the Metropolitan Police was involved in, when Hussain raised a problem with the budget.

The Guardian quoted Blar as telling the tribunal: “I very rarely show anger in meetings. I am pretty sure I did raise my voice with Shabbir… I did say that I was not interested in someone just bringing a new problem to my table, I wanted a solution.

“I think Shabbir persisted and I probably was pretty brusque… it would be unusual for me to have been brusque enough to feel that I ought to apologise in an email to a more junior officer, but I did the next day.”

The hearing of the lawsuit will continue. It is expected to be followed by the case of Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur, another Asian officer, who has also alleged that prejudice blighted his career.

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