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UK police chief defends record after charges of racism


London, (IRNA):

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair Thursday issued a rare statement to defend claims of racism in Britain's largest police force.

"I believe I have a long, honourable and occasionally blood- stained record on the championing of diversity - not perfect but always principled and persistent," Blair said.

His statement was issued as he was appearing at the Metropolitan Police Authority following reports that that Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur, the most senior Muslim policeman, is considering a race discrimination employment case against the force.

Blair, who revealed that he would be meeting Ghaffur later Thursday, said that he was aware of his concerns but over recent decisions about his role in preparations for security for the 2012 Olympics in London.

He also strongly stressed his own seniority over his assistant, saying every member of London's Metropolitan police force "works to my direction and must meet my reasonable requirements."

"Any other position is impossible. If that does not occur I will deal with the matter robustly and quickly," the commissioner warned.

Ghaffur, who was born in Uganda, is reportedly claiming racism over failure to renew his five-year contract, being sidelined by the commissioner and allegedly being told to keep quiet about his reservations about extending pre-charge detentions to 42 days.

He has also blamed Islamophobia in western societies for creating a "generation of angry young people" vulnerable to extremism and called for an independent judicial inquiry into radicalization of young Muslims following the 2005 July 7 attacks in London.

Last year, Blair was forced to issue an apology for the "considerable damage' caused between the force and its ethnic minority officers by carrying out a virtual racist witch hunt against an Iranian born superintendent.

The apology comes after Ali Dizaei, one of the police's highest ranking Muslim officers, was acquitted of alleged corruption charges in 2005 after a four-year investigation, code name Operation Helios, that reportedly cost Pnds 4 million (Dlrs 7.8 m).

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