by NADEEM BADSHAH
EX-MET OFFICER GURPAL VIRDI REVEALS HIS BATTLES WITH THE FORCE IN NEW BOOK
A FORMER Asian Metropolitan Police officer has said the force must explain why it charged him and accused his former employer of failing to investigate why some ‘corrupt’ officers targeted an “innocent” colleague.
Gurpal Virdi has had a long-running battle with his former employer after being falsely accused of racism, shunned by colleagues and wrongly charged with sexual assault.
The 59-year-old, who served 30 years with Britain’s biggest police force, is bringing his career as a local councillor to an end next month.
But his battle with the Met may not be over.
There are growing calls for a public inquiry, led by Sir Peter Bottomley MP, into the Met for the 2014 charges against Virdi for abusing a black youth more than 30 years ago, which are detailed in Virdi’s new book, Behind The Blue Line.
Sir Peter has written to the prime minister Theresa May, home secretary Amber Rudd, police and justice officials to seek a meeting and has also asked them to investigate events surrounding the prosecution. It took a jury no more than an hour to clear Virdi of the charges.
In an interview with Eastern Eye, Virdi claimed he is a victim of a vendetta and said the Met must explain why it charged him.
“You cannot have police officers do this to one of their own. It makes you wonder what they do to the public, especially minority communities. Are we all going to be fitted up for things we have not done? Sexual allegations are the worst you can make.
“The Met is failing to look at the issue – corrupt officers targeting an innocent man who was one of their colleagues and trying to send him to prison. These officers should not be serving the Met Police, they are criminals.
“When you hide evidence, falsify evidence and tell lies in court, that is wrong.
“The Met needs to get rid of these bad apples.”
Two decades ago, Virdi was sacked after being falsely accused of sending racist mail to colleagues at Ealing police station in west London. The Met later paid Virdi compensation for their mistake and also apologised.
Although Virdi returned to work, he was shunned by colleagues. He believes the alleged grudge by some Met chiefs was because he gave evidence to a public inquiry 20 years ago.
“Everything stems from 1998, when I was challenging what was happening in the division at the time over the stabbing of two youths by five white youths, similar to the Stephen Lawrence enquiry.
“They (some in the police) in turn blamed me for sending me the race hate mail. When they went to the tribunal, the Met was criticised at a high level.
“From that time, senior officers involved have had a grudge against me.
“Every two years I have been investigated for one thing or another. In 2012, I said enough is enough, my family is suffering, and I left the force.”
The west London-based councillor said he suffered discrimination since growing up in England in the 1960s, but vowed to “never given in”.
He also credited his family and friends for supporting him through his ordeals with the Met.
“People like me from the old school, we challenge racism, growing up in the 1960s. We protect our community.
“I knew I was going to face a lot of discrimination when I joined (the Met). You have to fight your battles. I was not the kind of person to back away or give into racism.
“That was why I returned to the Met. I was not giving in to racist bigots. I made a point and did my 30 years. But the toll goes on – when you are being investigated every two years, it is mentally draining.”
He added: “My wife has been right next to me and my kids. Peter Bottomley has been very supportive and so has John McDonnell MP. I still think without that support I would not made it through.
“My health has suffered; my wife is suffering after the last case.
“I have had no support from the Police Federation, every case has been financed by myself.”
Virdi said he was forced to run as an independent councillor after being dropped by the Labour party and his mentor Sadiq Khan, when the Met made public the news that he had been charged with indecent assault.
His accuser told the police that Virdi had attacked him and shoved a retractable police baton up his backside. It later emerged the tool was not used in Britain at the time of the alleged attack.
Virdi said: “I joined Labour’s Future Candidates Programme. At one of the meetings I saw an undercover officer who I recognised. I think they realised that because I was going into politics they had to do something. A chap came along and made a complaint’ the publicity before the elections was to destroy my chances of going to politics.
“However, the local people still voted for me and I got in as an independent. My term is ending in May. I no longer wish to go into politics, my political career has been destroyed.”
Virdi wants to focus on enjoying his retirement and continuing his voluntary work helping the local community.
His advice is: “Don’t be afraid, because you have to think of the guy behind you, your kids, your family. If everybody kept quiet, we wouldn’t achieve anything.”
And despite his ordeal, he would not stop anyone from a BME background joining the police service.
“I will not knock anybody’s keenness to join the police service. I didn’t want somebody to tell me, ‘don’t join’.
“They have my full support, as the community needs them. However, if you have a degree or higher education do not waste it, you would be wasting it in the Met.
“Things have improved. My advice would be go for promotion,” Virdi said.
“However, if you want to join a central squad, there are still closed shops there, some sections of the Met which are still closed off for ethnic minorities.”
Sir Peter, MP for Worthing West in Sussex, said: “How was it possible that such an impressive officer would be persecuted and prosecuted in both service and in retirement?
“The accusations were absurd and unjustified. The best way forward would be to conduct an official inquiry now.”
A Met spokesperson said the force “has made significant strides in ensuring we have a more diverse and inclusive workforce”, and has created “dedicated teams of specialists to respond to internal complaints of discrimination”.
The spokesperson added: “The MPS is also investing in improvements to the way it records internal discrimination complaints so that it is better able to identify victimisation.”
- Behind the Blue Line: My Fight Against Racism and Discrimination in the Met by Gurpal Virdi is out now.