31 Mar 2012

Man ‘devastated’ over police race insults

A young black man who recorded a policeman using racist insults after he was arrested during last summer’s riots tells Channel 4 News he felt “devastated” to be addressed in such a manner.

The officer, named by sources as PC Alex MacFarlane of the Metropolitan Police, was apparently recorded by the suspect on his mobile phone as he was taken into custody, according to the Guardian newspaper.

The report includes an exchange between the officer and the 21-year-old black man in which the former appears to say: “The problem with you is you will always be a n*****, yeah?”

The Guardian also reports that Mr MacFarlane claimed: “You’ll always have black skin colour.

“Don’t hide behind your colour, yeah?” adding: “Be proud. Be proud of who you are, yeah. Don’t hide behind your black skin.”

But in an interview with Channel 4 News, the alleged victim told Home Affairs Correspondent Simon Israel that being spoken to in such a manner by the police officer “really made me feel worser than, like, an alien. It just made me feel devastated.”

‘Very serious errors’

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigated and forwarded a file to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) after the man passed the recording to other police officers.

But a lawyer for the CPS refused to bring any charges. Michael Osward, the lawyer for the alleged victim, told Channel 4 News: “When we came to understand the basis on which the decision was reached, I mean, we were taken aback on how poor the quality of the decision-making was.

“As far as we could tell, the CPS had made some very serious errors in respect of the law, and had also failed to appreciate properly the facts of the case.”

As far as we could tell, the CPS had made some very serious errors in respect of the law. Michael Oswald, alleged victim’s lawyer

The CPS confirmed last night it would assess the file again after the man’s lawyers complained.

Grace Ononiwu, deputy chief crown prosecutor for the CPS, said: “Lawyers for the complainant have written to the CPS and asked us to review our decision.

“I have considered the matter personally and directed that all of the evidence should be reconsidered and and a fresh decision taken by a senior lawyer with no previous involvement in this matter.

“That process will be completed as soon as possible and is the procedure we often adopt when pre-action protocol judicial review proceedings are initiated.”

‘Discriminatory behaviour’

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “We can confirm that the MPS received a complaint alleging a man arrested on 11 August 2011 was subjected to discriminatory behaviour (racial remarks), assault and oppressive conduct/or harassment.

“These are serious allegations. Any use of racist language or excessive use of force is not acceptable.”

He continued: “Following the alleged incident, three officers were the subject of a misconduct investigation. One of the officers has been suspended in relation to this matter pending the result of the IPCC investigation.

“One of the officers has been placed on restricted duties on an unrelated matter and another remains on full duties.”