Thursday, January 14, 2010

Corrupt police: a bit more background

In the last few days you may have noticed that a high ranking police officer is in court over the misuse of his position. There have been a number of reports about Commander Ali Dizaei who allegedly arrested a man because he had a personal dispute with him about a website and falsely alleged he'd been assaulted.

Now, we know this sort of thing happens. Some police officers have been known to take advantage of the powers the state lends them to assault, stitch up and otherwise do over members of the public. It is also the case that police officers do occasionally find themselves in court over this kind of behaviour.

However, it seems to me that the reports of this latest episode do seem to be deliberately skirting round a particularly salient fact.

Now, I do not want to comment on whether Commander Dizaei has been guilty of wrong doing or not in this case. I have no way of knowing one way or the other. I do happen to have a memory though and using this possibly unique ability I recognised Dizaei's name from a previous police corruption case.

However, that case was quite different. As a leading member of the National Black Police Association and outspoken critic of institutional racism in the force Dizaei found himself the subject of an extraordinary surveillance operation, Operation Helios.

Helios cost the taxpayer millions upon millions, used up thousands of hours of time of the fifty police officers involved and ended up in one of the most ludicrous court cases you could possibly imagine. A barrage of charges were made against Dizaei ranging from fiddling his petrol expenses, using prostitutes to spying for Iran. Honestly! They charged him with some of the most serious crimes on the books alongside some of the most petty.

The operation was a travesty and a clear example of a police command structure that wanted someone out who it did not regard as "one 0f us". They abused their position to cook up a shopping list of charges as an attempt to destroy one of the leading anti-racist police officers. All the charges were either thrown out or dropped. Not a single one was upheld.

Surprisingly Dizeai did not attempt to screw the Met for every penny they had and focused on being re-instated as a police officer, something he eventually achieved. To my knowledge no police officer was ever disciplined for their part in Operation Helios and whilst Dizeai may have been re-instated he was a marked man.

Back to the present day. Once again Dizeai is up on charges of corruption, once again the press simply prints the state's case against him and seems to have developed amnesia over the extremely relevant fact that Dizeai was previously the victim of false accusations cooked up by the state.

Now, I am not saying that because he had false accusations levelled against him before that he is a saint that could not possibly have done the things that he is accused of today. He should not be immune from prosecution simply because of the way he was treated before. That is a given.

What I am saying is that if the press want to provide balanced coverage the fact that the Metropolitan Police tried every dirty trick in the book to get his head only a few years ago deserves at least a footnote when he is once again charged with corruption.

People might like to read Dizaei's account of Operation Helios in his excellent book 'Not One Of Us'.


Adrian Windisch said...

I thought that name was familiar. Well spotted Jim.

Hugh said...

I do not know if this man is guilty as charged here. I was not there and neither were you. However I do question the need for a blatantly racist organisation in the police Service. I refer to the Black police officers association. Why is this a racist organisation you ask?...Well.when an organisation states that you can only be a full voting member if you match their Ethnic profile (Black, African etc) that does tend to discriminate against someone because of their skin colour and is, in my opinion, Racist

Jim Jepps said...

Hugh. On your first point I explicitly said "I do not want to comment on whether Commander Dizaei has been guilty of wrong doing or not in this case. I have no way of knowing one way or the other." because I wanted to be crystal clear I was not claiming anything about the current court case.

On your second point. This is a myth, from the constitution the national body doesn't have individual membership. The local groups are open to all regardless of ethnicity.