Six white London police officers have charged the Metropolitan Police Service with reverse racism and discrimination and have taken Scotland Yard to an employment tribunal.
The six men, all member of the service’s Territorial Support Group, were tried in court on charges of race-related criminal assault against young Arabs in West London in June 2007. The incident went to court only went to court when a seventh member of the unit, Pc Amechi Onwugbonu, a black policeman, complained about their behavior testified against the white officer.
However, the six white officers were all acquitted during the trial at Kingston Crown Court in the autumn of 2009.
One of the officers, Sgt. Bill Wilson, has since retired from the force after serving for 30 years, but told BBC that the he and others were sidelined by superiors.
In the tribunal, the white officers charge that the Met singled them out for punishment in the wake of the 1999 Macpherson inquiry which uncovered institutional racism in the London police force. The inquiry was prompted by the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence and police behavior during the investigation of that crime.
The Macpherson led to large reforms in the police service.
The Met said it rejects the policemen’s claims and will fight them in court.
The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) is committed to ensuring that any allegations of wrongdoing by officers or staff are investigated fairly and proportionately no matter who makes the allegation or against whom it is made, said a spokesman for the department.
The MPS expects the highest standards of its staff, who are all fully aware that they will be held accountable for their conduct and behavior. The employment tribunal claim is stayed pending the conclusion of the independent IPCC investigation; this is outside the control of the MPS.
The defendants remain adamant.
Wilson told BBC: “I feel very angry, very upset about the way I've been dealt with. I don't know why I did the thirty years. I could not recommend it as a career to anybody. I am convinced that there was a panic. It was a black officer making an allegation against six white officers. If it had been a white officer making that allegation, then the matter would have been dealt with in-house there and then. That would have been the end of it.”
Wilson bitterly added: If there is any allegation by any black or ethnic minority person against white police officers, they have gone in completely the opposite direction to the point where it is actually the white officers getting discriminated against. I think they are terrified of this label of institutional racism and they are terrified of being accused of not taking a black officer's allegations seriously because that could be twisted round to say they are ignoring him because he is an ethnic minority officer. It's political correctness gone mad.
Lynne Burns, the lawyer for the six officers, told BBC: I think this case is a complete embarrassment to [the Met] and really they just want to bury it and for it never to come to court. I have heard what the new commissioner has said about honesty, integrity and transparency - all the things that this case is distinctly lacking. I would really like to meet with him.