Six white police officers have accused Scotland Yard of racial discrimination, saying they are the victims of political correctness.
The officers are taking the Metropolitan Police to an employment tribunal–but accuse the force of delaying tactics.
One of the officers, speaking for the first time to the BBC, said he now had nothing but contempt for the force.
Scotland Yard says it rejects the claims and will contest them in court.
The six men, all members of the Territorial Support Group, were tried and acquitted in a trial relating to alleged race-related assaults.
One of the officers was accused of assaulting teenagers of Arab background in west London. A colleague was accused of threatening behaviour. The four other officers allegedly covered up the incident.
The matter came to court because a seventh member of the unit, a black officer, gave evidence against his former colleagues–but all six were cleared at the trial at Kingston Crown Court in the autumn of 2009.
Bill Wilson, the sergeant who led the team, has retired after a career of 30 years, but says that after the trial he and others were sidelined.
‘Panic at the top’
Mr Wilson accused Scotland Yard of charging them because it feared it would be accused of institutional racism if it did not act on the black officer’s complaint.
“I am convinced that there was a panic,” Mr Wilson told the BBC. “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.
“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.”
In their tribunal case, the men are arguing that the force treated them unfairly because of the Met’s decision-making culture since the 1999 Macpherson Inquiry into the killing of Stephen Lawrence.
The report labelled the Metropolitan Police institutionally racist and led to massive reforms.
Lynne Burns, the men’s lawyer, said they would argue in their employment tribunal that they had been victimised.
“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,” she said.
“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.”
A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said that it denied the allegations and would defend its actions 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 the spokesman.
“The MPS expects the highest standards of its staff, who are all fully aware that they will be held accountable for their conduct and behaviour.
“The employment tribunal claim is stayed pending the conclusion of the independent IPCC investigation; this is outside the control of the MPS.”
Superintendent Leroy Logan is the deputy chair of the Black Police Association and has lobbied police chiefs to take seriously racism and whistleblowing.
He said the force has moved on since Macpherson and that white officers would be treated no differently to black officers.
He said: “Everyone would be treated the same. They would be given the support and if there were merits in the case, it would be put to the Crown Prosecution Service.
“Colour is immaterial. If you are a whistleblower, then you need support.”
“I don’t see political correctness but efficiency and effectiveness.”
Bill Wilson and the other five officers in the case face a separate legal action by the youths who made the original allegation of assault. One of the six officers, Pc Mark Jones, was also tried and acquitted earlier this year of assaulting a man during a counter-terrorism raid in 2003.
Mr Wilson said: “I feel nothing more than contempt [for the Met]. I feel very angry, very upset about the way I’ve been dealt with. I retired after thirty years and wasn’t spoken to by anybody in any senior position. It makes you feel pretty worthless. I don’t know why I did the thirty years. I could not recommend it as a career to anybody.”