Monday, February 8, 2010

The Ugly Face Of British Policing

The president of the National Black Police Association has been sent to prison after being found guilty of misconduct and attempting to pervert the course of justice. Ali Dizaei is a nasty piece of work and is a prime example of what can happen when the police promotes officers on the basis of their ethnicity rather than their ability to do their job. Red flags were raised throughout the man's career but no one was prepared to stand up to him in case they were accused of racism.

One thing I have never been able to understand is why an organisation like the National Black Police Association is allowed to exist. It is by its very nature racist - hoping to promote the interests of a group solely on the basis of the colour of its members. A police officer can lose his job if he is found to be a member of the British National Party, which in the past excluded non-whites. But the NPBA, which is solely for non-white police officers, is allowed to operate with impunity. Hardly seems fair, does it?

Anyway, hopefully the conviction of Ali Dizaei will finally bring the Met to its senses and they will go back to hiring and promoting officers on the basis of ability and not their ethnic background. I know a lot of police officers and in my experience most of them care about only one colour - blue, the colour of their uniform. They don't care about the colour of their colleagues, their bosses, or of the villains they put behind bars. They just want to do their job as effectively as possible. Be nice if the men, and women, who run the nation's police forces, felt the same way!

Anyway, here's the story from the Guardian newspaper:

The Metropolitan police commander Ali Dizaei was jailed for four years today after being convicted of falsely arresting a man and making up an account that he had been assaulted and threatened.

A jury at Southwark crown court today found the 47-year-old guilty of misconduct in public office and attempting to pervert the course of justice. Dizaei, a controversial and high-profile officer, faces being sacked from the force in disgrace.

The jury took two hours and 31 minutes to reach its unanimous verdicts. As the verdict was announced, Dizaei, once tipped as a future commissioner of the Metropolitan police, stood motionless in the dock. He stared in the direction of the jury. They did not glance back.

In between the verdict and sentencing Dizaei was able to leave the dock to hug and kiss his wife, Shy. The offences he has been convicted of carry a maximum of life imprisonment.

The case was investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC). After the verdict its chair, Nick Hardwick, branded Dizaei a "criminal in uniform" who had behaved like a "bully".

Dizaei is president of the National Black Police Association and was suspended over the incident in September 2008 at the height of a race row that convulsed the force.

The trial was the second time in seven years Dizaei had faced criminal charges. In 2003 he was cleared by a jury and later returned to duty. He is believed to be the most senior officer in recent times to stand trial.

The crown said Dizaei was involved in the "wholesale abuse" of his powers by bullying, threatening and intimidating a man in the culmination of a personal vendetta. He was charged with threatening and falsely arresting Waad al-Baghdadi, who said Dizaei had failed to pay him money owed for a website he designed for the officer.

The crown said that the £600 Dizaei allegedly failed to pay Baghdadi led to months of rising tension, which spilled over into verbal and physical clashes outside a west London restaurant in July 2008.

Peter Wright QC told the jury that Dizaei was on trial for falsely claiming that Baghdadi had made threatening gestures and assaulted him.

Dizaei arrested Baghdadi and called 999 for help. He maintained his account to officers at the scene and after Baghdadi was in custody by making verbal and written statements, the court heard.

Wright said the senior police officer's account was contradicted by a recording of a 999 call Baghdadi made to police, during which Dizaei arrested him.

Wright told the jury: "These are allegations, we say, that involve the wholesale abuse of power by a senior police officer for entirely personal and oblique motives."

Dizaei said Baghdadi had made threatening gestures towards him and he decided to arrest him for a public order offence. The officer said his wife was left terrified by the verbal tirade and threats from Baghdadi.

Dizaei claimed that during the arrest he was poked or stabbed in the stomach with an object that he believed to be the top of a shisha pipe. There was a struggle as he tried to handcuff Baghdadi.

A forensic medical examiner later concluded Dizaei's injuries were not consistent with being stabbed by a shisha pipe but were more likely to be "self-inflicted". However, an accredited Home Office pathologist challenged that finding and said it was based on a "fundamentally flawed approach".

The crown claimed that during the arrest Dizaei threatened Baghdadi, saying: "I'll fuck your life … You think I don't know what you do in London … I'll find every single detail of your life in London."

Hardwick said: "When Mr al-Baghdadi tried to get Commander Dizaei to pay him the money he owed him, Dizaei assaulted and then arrested him. He went on to lie about what had happened and, if he had been successful, Mr al-Baghdadi may have been sent to prison.

"Dizaei behaved like a bully and the only way to deal with bullies is to stand up to them. Mr al-Baghdadi has shown tremendous strength of character throughout this case ‑ from the moment he was confronted by Ali Dizaei, throughout our investigation, and finally when giving evidence at court. We are grateful for the confidence he placed in the IPCC and, as a result of that, justice has been done today.

"The greatest threat to the reputation of the police service is criminals in uniform like Dizaei."

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