Liberal Democrat members of the London Assembly have expressed their concern over the decision by Met Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair to suspend Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur.
Ghaffur has recently accused the force of of racial discrimination, claims the force denies.
On Tuesday Sir Ian announced that he had “temporarily relieved” AC Ghaffur of his responsibilities in the Met’s Central Operations Directorate. A statement issued by the Met said the decision followed “consideration of the manner and impact of his recent press conference and media statements by him, or the advisors and organisations supporting him”
Announcing his decision Sir Ian said: “it is the case that the interests of Londoners are not being well served by this current situation. Accordingly, I have decided that, for the time being, AC Tarique Ghaffur be temporarily relieved of his responsibilities although he will remain an assistant commissioner in the Metropolitan Police Service.”
LibDem Assembly Dee Doocey, who speaks on policing for her party, said she was “stunned by this decision” as a meeting of the Metropolitan Police Authority’s Professional Standards Cases Sub-committee on Monday night has concluded “that the conditions for suspension, as laid down in Misconduct Regulations, had not been met.”
That ruling followed a request by Deputy Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson who had requested the Authority determine whether there had been any misconduct by AC Ghaffur following the public press conference he held on 28 August.
Following news of the suspension Doocey told reporters she was “very concerned that despite the sub-committee finding there were no grounds for suspension, the following morning AC Ghaffur is suddenly relieved of his duties and sent on holiday by the Commissioner.”
Mayor of London Boris Johnson, who is due to take over as Chair of the MPA, described the suspension as “a necessary move in order to restore confidence that the operational efficiency of the Met Police is not compromised” but said he had “no intention of getting involved in employment tribunals or other inquiries but I am totally supportive of this action.”
Sir Ian said the force “still want to find a way to resolve” Ghaffur’s complaints through a mediated process. Scotland Yard says Ghaffur is currently “on authorised leave of absence.”