Belfast Telegraph

Hero officer who helped save teen trapped under car to sue PSNI over racial discrimination claims

By Deborah McAleese

A hero police officer is to sue the PSNI for alleged racism within the force.

The officer, who was one of the brave cops to rescue a teenager trapped under a car during a riot in north Belfast in July, has launched legal proceedings against the force for alleged racial discrimination and victimisation.

He is among a small number of officers from an ethnic minority background within the PSNI.

Documents have been lodged with the Office of the Industrial Tribunals and Fair Employment Tribunal, claiming that from 2012 the officer was treated less favourably than other colleagues when it came to promotion and temporary promotion opportunities.

It is understood the PSNI intends to robustly defend all allegations.

Claims of racial jibes made to an ethnic minority officer are expected to form part of the case against the PSNI.

Concern is also expected to be raised over claims that the integrity of a recent constable to sergeant promotion process may have been compromised.

A case management hearing to outline skeleton arguments in the case was held during the week. The full hearing is due to take place early next year.

It is understood that a similar case was taken by the same officer a few years ago and was settled out of court in 2012.

Some members of the officer's unit are believed to have been previously disciplined over a video allegedly containing racist and sectarian comments.

It is understood that the PSNI took disciplinary action against a number of the officer's colleagues after the video was discovered by police bosses.

The officer at the heart of the race allegations is believed to have been one of a number injured during rioting in north Belfast on July 13.

He and his colleagues helped to lift a car off a 16-year-old girl who became trapped under the vehicle after it slammed into pedestrians during violent clashes. When asked for comment on the racial allegations, a spokeswoman for the PSNI said that "as this case is ongoing, we would not prejudice the proceedings by commenting on it".

However, it is understood that the PSNI intends to deny all of the officer's allegations of racial discrimination and victimisation.

In 2012, PSNI bosses insisted that the organisation did not tolerate racism or sectarianism.

That year four officers were suspended over racist and sectarian text messages.

And the then Deputy Chief Constable Judith Gillespie, who has since retired, revealed that the organisation had in the past investigated incidents of phone text racism.

"They were dealt with very seriously, but this is the first time I can recall that we've suspended four officers," said Ms Gillespie.

She also pledged that racism and sectarianism would not be tolerated in the force.

Ms Gillespie added at the time: "It is absolutely unacceptable for officers to engage in racist and sectarian language, and far less to exchange that in the form of texts to each other.

"The message is loud and clear, that racist and sectarian behaviour on the part of police officers is absolutely not tolerated by the Police Service of Northern Ireland."

Belfast Telegraph


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