Top female Muslim police officer sues Met for racism

24th Jul 2020

Elham Asaad Buaras

Scotland Yard’s former top female BAME and Muslim officer is suing the Metropolitan Police in a £500,000 racism claim, saying she was told to keep quiet about a swastika at her station.

During her 32 years of service, Supt Nusrit Mehtab rose through the ranks to become the most senior female ethnic minority officer in the Met, working in everything from undercover operations to counterterrorism.

Mehtab, who is of Pakistani origin, was described as “a poster girl for the force”, and even starred in ‘Mehtab of the Met’ an ITV show that documented her work to improve community relations in London’s East End.

But she resigned in January, complaining of a ‘toxic workplace’ with sexism, she argued she hit a ‘glass ceiling’, insisting she would have achieved more seniority ‘were it not for the institutional racism.’

She accused Scotland Yard of only paying ‘lip service’ to diversity and officers while secretly covering up a ‘racism graffiti campaign,’ telling her to keep quiet after a swastika was scrawled on the walls of her police station (accessible only to staff) in Edmonton, north London, last February.
According to papers lodged at an Employment Tribunal, Scotland Yard bosses blamed builders for the racist graffiti.

The force launched an investigation, but the culprit was never found. Mehtab said she feared there was a far-right sympathiser about – and the ‘likelihood was that it was a police officer.’

She described the incident as part of a ‘racist graffiti campaign’, which included a penis being scrawled on a photo of an Asian superintendent.
In an explosive race and sexism claim, she has described how senior white female officers ‘huddled together like Mean Girls [a reference to a movie].’

According to her legal papers, when she went to work in the Tower Hamlets in 1988, ‘the traditional induction greeting for newly-arrived female officers… was to have their breast and bottoms stamped.’

She added, ‘In my case, the white male officers did not know how to initiate me. They put their minds to it and set a trap… they left a vibrator in my locker and congregated to watch me open my locker, thrilled with their ingenuity and sniggering. That was the openly misogynistic culture in the police then.’

Mehtab believes she was forced to patrol alone because of her race while white male colleagues refused to talk to or sit next to her, which she likened to being ignored by children.

A practising Muslim, she refused to wear a uniformed skirt for religious reasons and was forced to wear trousers made for a male officer.

Mehtab is now bringing a claim against the Metropolitan Police at the Central London Employment Tribunal claiming constructive dismissal, race, sex and religious discrimination, harassment and victimisation.

According to legal papers, her promotions were held up due to sexism and racism. When she was made an inspector, she overheard a colleague say, “You’ll never believe it. The Doris has passed. How the hell did that happen? How did you let it happen?”

Mehtab accuses Commissioner Cressida Dick of failing to tackle the problem, saying she ‘protects the racist working environment by supporting racist officers.’

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