Posted on June 20, 2005

Met ‘Too Afraid of Racism to Investigate Rape Claim’

Daniel Foggo, Telegraph (London), June 19

Scotland Yard failed to investigate fully an allegation by a white woman of a rape involving an officer from an ethnic minority because of concerns that it would be accused of racism.

Despite a secret two-year investigation into the woman’s complaint, the officer, who was accused of being party to an incident in which the victim claims she was drugged before being raped, has never been interviewed or questioned because of fears that an inquiry would be seen as “a racist witch-hunt”.

In cases of rape allegations it is normal procedure for anyone involved in the alleged incident to be interviewed under caution before a decision is taken on whether to press charges. In this instance, however, the Metropolitan Police was said to have been “walking on eggshells” in the wake of the Macpherson Report, published in 1999, which said that the force was “institutionally racist”.

As a result, the matter was never put to the officer — who serves with the Metropolitan Police and whose identity is known to this newspaper — because of fears that he would accuse the force of pursuing him for racist reasons.

The revelation of the woman’s claim comes after a week in which the Metropolitan Police has faced multiple accusations of racism.

At an industrial tribunal last week, the Commissioner Sir Ian Blair faced accusations of “politically correct meddling” in a disciplinary case involving white officers. He was said to have been keen to make examples of the officers, who faced charges of racist behaviour, even though an inquiry had already cleared them.

That charge is overshadowed by the latest unprecedented revelation, however, which demonstrates the extraordinary lengths to which the Metropolitan Police is prepared to go to accommodate officers from ethnic minorities.

The rape complaint, which the force has attempted to keep secret for four years, was considered so sensitive that Sir Ian, then Deputy Commissioner, oversaw the inquiry himself.

It was formally made by the woman, now 35, in 2001 and relates to an alleged incident which she said took place 13 years earlier. She said that she had not reported it at the time because she was afraid that the man would come after her. She claimed that the man, who she had been seeing for a few weeks, invited her to an address in west London where she began drinking with him and another man, whom he identified as his cousin.

She believes that she passed out after a drug was placed in her drink and says that when she awoke, she was being raped by the other man. She passed out again, waking to find the man naked beside her and her boyfriend lying on the floor nearby. She says that when she complained to her boyfriend that she had been raped he told her she had imagined it. She ended their relationship immediately.

Following her complaint in 2001, during which she made a full statement, Scotland Yard detectives spent two years secretly investigating the allegation. Several people gave the police statements, but detectives were told not to approach the officer and in 2003 the case was closed. The failure to question the officer because of the sensitivity over his race was confirmed by several sources. One said: “Scotland Yard was treading on eggshells with this and the feeling at the top level was that even putting the rape to this man would be too much.”

The woman, who cannot be identified, said: “Due process has not been served. This man, who is now a serving officer, was party to my rape.”

Scotland Yard said that the allegation had been “thoroughly investigated”. While awaiting their response, a man identifying himself as the officer’s solicitor called the offices of The Sunday Telegraph in a state of agitation. Attempts to contact him subsequently failed, but Scotland Yard admitted that after this newspaper’s inquiry, it contacted the officer. “We have a duty of care to him,” said a spokesman, who declined to comment on the duty of care to the alleged rape victim.

The officer’s solicitor said his client had been previously aware of the rape allegation, which he denied, and confirmed that he had never been interviewed formally or informally over it. He said that he took this as proof that the allegation was groundless.