Police Pair Face Court Over Racial Assault Charge

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Two police officers are to appear in court following allegations of assault on a man earlier this year, the police watchdog said.

The officers from Bedfordshire Police have been summonsed in connection with an alleged assault on Faruk Ali in Luton in February, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said.

Christopher Thomas, 33, from Welwyn Garden City, has been summonsed in relation to charges of racially aggravated assault, assault, perverting the course of justice and misconduct in public office.

Christopher Pitts, 39, from Bedford, has been summonsed in relation to charges of perverting the course of justice and misconduct in public office.

They will appear at Aylesbury Magistrates Court on September 1.

The IPCC has been supervising an investigation by Leicestershire Police, which is continuing.

Disgraced Cop In Racially Aggravated Assault

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A disgraced former police officer has been ordered to pay £600 compensation to a doorman he attacked in a racially aggravated assault.

Pc James Balneaves, 29, wept in the dock at Westminster Magistrates’ Court while receiving £1,510 in fines during his sentencing for racially aggravated assault.

Prosecutor Jonathon Swain said the incident occurred when Balneaves, who has since resigned from his role as a Metropolitan Police constable in Brent, refused to accept he was not allowed into a central London nightclub.

Mr Swain said an off-duty Balneaves, his girlfriend and a colleague tried to gain entry to the Opal Nightclub at Embankment on October 19 but the doorman, who was described in court as “Mr Ahmed”, refused them entry because his girlfriend appeared too intoxicated.

The prosecutor said Mr Ahmed asked Balneaves, who had alcohol on his breath, whether he had a booking and he replied: “No, but our friends are inside. Do you do a police discount?”

Mr Swain said Balneaves kept asking about a discount and the doorman told him the cost of entry was not the issue, but the fact his girlfriend was too drunk to enter.

He told the court Mr Ahmed began filming Balneaves when he became agitated and continued to ask about the discount while showing his warrant card, before he and a colleague picked him up and took him away from the entry.

Mr Swain said Balneaves then yelled at the doorman: “Get off me bloody foreigner, get off me f****** foreigner.”

He then punched the doorman twice, causing him a small cut to the inside of his lip.

Balneaves was then arrested and taken to Charing Cross police station.

Defence lawyer Mark Lake said his client resigned as a police officer immediately after he pleaded guilty to the offence earlier this month.

Mr Lake said Balneaves and his girlfriend had both had a bottle of wine each before trying to enter the nightclub and, while his client described himself as tipsy, he agreed his girlfriend was quite drunk.

He said his client should have known better being a police officer and moved along, but instead decided to argue and demanded to see the club’s manager while showing his warrant card.

He said the “catalyst” came when the doorman began filming Balneaves, who took offence.

The lawyer described his client, who wore a dark suit and navy tie in the dock, as a man of good character who had received two bravery awards and been injured while on duty.

“In many ways, this is a tragedy,” Mr Lake told District Judge Nick Evans.

“A few moments of madness… and he’s thrown away his career.

“That is a terrible consequence for him and one he’s going to regret for the rest of his life.

“When he leaves this court, regardless of the penalty you impose today, he leaves as a disgraced ex-officer who now has a conviction for racially aggravated assault, which may make it difficult for him to find further employment.”

Mr Evans fined Balneaves £750 for the racially aggravated assault and ordered he pay his victim £600 in compensation. He also had to pay a further £160 in court costs and fees.

The judge told Balneaves: “It’s a sad story when somebody in your position comes to this court and pleads guilty to this offence.”

Balneaves is still technically a police constable given his resignation will officially take effect on January 11 after his 28-day notice period has lapsed.

RACIST MUAMBA STUDENT FREED – BUT WHAT’S NEXT?

A student jailed for making racist comments on Twitter following the collapse of Premier League footballer Fabrice Muamba could face further punishment – this time from his university.

Liam Stacey, 21, was released from prison at the end of last month – after being told he would serve half of a 56 day custodial sentence behind bars.

But while the third-year biology student has got back his liberty, he still remains suspended from Swansea University.

According to reports, he is still yet to face a disciplinary hearing – with a committee having a range of sanctions at its disposal.

They include letting a student off with a warning, imposing a fine or expulsion.

A university spokeswoman told The South Wales Evening post newspaper: “The disciplinary proceedings haven’t yet taken place, but we will not be saying when they will be taking place as that is a matter between the university and Liam Stacey.”

Mark Leech, founder and former Chief Executive of the national ex-offenders charity UNLOCK questioned what it had to do with the Unversity.

Mr Leech said: “If a 15 year old boy appears in court for shoplifting he doesn’t then face the Headmaster at his school – and nor should he.

“This is none of the University’s business, Stacey represents no threat to other students and he should be allowed to get on with his life – the University should keep its nose out.”

Stacey, originally from Pontypridd, was arrested on March 18 after making a series of racially offensive comments on Twitter the day before.

They had been prompted after the sports-fan posted a message on the social networking site which appeared to mock Bolton midfielder Mr Muamba’s sudden collapse.

The Congolese-born player suffered a cardiac arrest during an FA Cup match with Tottenham Hotspur.

As paramedics were fighting to save his life, Stacey wrote: “F**k, Muamba. He’s dead. Ha ha.”

It resulted in several other site users, including two people believed to be of Afro-Caribbean origin, to message Stacey in return. Some of these posts contained explicit language directed at Stacey.

He then retorted with a string of racist Tweets – prompting complaints to the police.

During his appearance before magistrates in Swansea, Stacey pleaded guilty to a racially aggravated public order offence but stressed he was not a racist and that he had been drunk when posting the comments online.

Despite his pleas for leniency, and a subsequent appeal, Stacey went to prison.

A court has also previously heard, as well as being suspended from university, Stacey’s dream of becoming a forensic scientist almost certainly lies in tatters because of his criminal conviction for a racially aggravated offence.

Earlier this week, the UK Government’s Attorney General Dominic Grieve issued a warning to Twitter users about what they posted online.

He said: “The idea that you have immunity because you’re an anonymous tweeter is a big mistake.

“If necessary, we will take action.”

MPS RAISE FEARS OVER MET RACISM ROW

Senior MPs have said there must be “zero tolerance” of racism in the police following the disclosure that an officer had been suspended for allegedly racially abusing a suspect during the London riots.

There was shock and anger after it was reported that the officer – named by sources as Pc Alex MacFarlane – told the 21-year-old black man: “The problem with you is you will always be a nigger, yeah?

“That’s your problem, yeah.”

The chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Committee Keith Vaz said he was “deeply concerned” at the way the case was handled after the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) originally decided not to bring charges.

According to The Guardian, the suspect was able to record the remarks on his mobile phone as he was being taken into custody by the Metropolitan Police officer on August 11 last year.

After receiving a file about the incident from the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), the CPS initially decided not to charge Mr MacFarlane and two other officers who were allegedly involved.

However last night the CPS said that it would look again at the case following a complaint from the detained man’s lawyer.

Mr Vaz said that it was now essential to establish exactly what had happened.

“I am deeply concerned by these allegations and the way in which they have been handled,” he said.

“We must establish the facts as to what actually occurred on August 11. However what I have heard suggests that lessons of the past have not been learned.

“If we are to have a police force that is trusted by its public, it has to be trusted by all people irrespective of their race. There must be zero tolerance towards the type of behaviour alleged in this case, not just by the perpetrator but also anyone who observes racist behaviour and does not stop it.

“This is not just a matter of potential criminality, this is a matter of standards and ethics.”

Grace Ononiwu, deputy chief crown prosecutor for the CPS London, 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 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.”

The Guardian reported that Mr MacFarlane also said to the man, who has not been named: “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.”

Shortly before the recording ends, the man can be heard saying: “I get this all the time,” and telling the officer: “Make sure you do a lot with your sixty grand, ‘cos you’re not going to get it no more, bruv.”

He then tells the officer: “We’ll definitely speak again about this. It’s gonna go all the way, it’s gonna go all the way – remember.”

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “We can confirm that the Metropolitan Police Service received a complaint alleging a man arrested on August 11 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.

“The MPS’s Directorate of Professional Standards referred this case to the IPCC who are independently investigating.

“Following the alleged incident, three officers were the subject of a misconductinvestigation. 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.”

COP SUSPENDED FOR ALLEGED RACIST REMARKS

A policeman has been suspended after allegedly calling a man a “nigger” during the London riots.

The officer, who sources named as Pc Alex MacFarlane of the Metropolitan Police, was apparently recorded by the suspect on his mobile phone as he was taken into custody.

The Guardian reported the officer told the 21-year-old black man: “The problem with you is you will always be a nigger, yeah?

“That’s your problem, yeah.”

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

The CPS decided not to charge Mr MacFarlane or two other officers but tonight confirmed they would assess the file again after the man’s lawyers complained.

Grace Ononiwu, deputy chief crown prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) London, 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 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.”

The Guardian reported that Mr MacFarlane also said to the man, who has not been named: “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.”

Another officer accused the man of being “a c*nt” and admitted strangling him.

Shortly before the recording ends, the man can be heard saying: “I get this all the time,” and telling the officer: “Make sure you do a lot with your sixty grand, ‘cos you’re not going to get it no more, bruv.”

He then tells the officer: “We’ll definitely speak again about this. It’s gonna go all the way, it’s gonna go all the way – remember.”

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “We can confirm that the MPS received a complaint alleging a man arrested on August 11 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.

“The MPS’s Directorate of Professional Standards referred this case to the IPCC who are independently investigating.

“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.”

TEARFUL RACIST STUDENT SENT BACK TO JAIL

After being sent straight back to jail today sobbing and shamefaced, university student Liam Stacey faces the prospect of being thrown off his course.

The 21-year-old was in the final semester of his three-year biology degree when he drunkenly sent his offensive and now infamous Tweets – which mocked footballer Fabrice Muamba’s plight and racially abused two Twitter users.

Despite his apparent horror at his actions and pleas that he had learned his lesson, the rugby fan today saw his appeal thrown out of court.

With the case gaining widespread publicity, his barrister Paul Hobson said Stacey’s future was now in tatters.

A criminal conviction for a racially aggravated public order offence has all but killed the undergraduate’s dream of becoming a forensic scientist.

His incarceration means he will not be able to sit some upcoming exams – and as a result will fail his third year.

But more importantly, next month university officials will hold a disciplinary hearing to decide whether to kick out the suspended Stacey for good.

Swansea University student Jon May, who is the features editor for student newspaper The Waterfront, said there was not a great deal of sympathy for Stacey – despite him once being a popular figure.

“A lot of people have been calling for him to be expelled,” added the 22-year-old business management undergraduate.

“What he said has shocked a lot of people on campus.

“He’s currently suspended at the moment, and a disciplinary hearing is going to take place in April.

“Given what has happened, the whole affair is hardly a good news story for the university.”

Stacey is also said to be inconsolable at the attention his parents have received as a result of his antics – which has reportedly resulted in their home in Pontypridd being pelted with eggs.

Added to that, he has also struggled to cope with life inside prison where a court heard he had “pariah status” among more hardened criminals.

Media law expert David Banks said the legal case served as a stark warning to other Twitter users.

He said: “One of the selling points of social networking sites is how they appear to be very conversational.

“But what you post on Twitter is not the same as what you may say down the pub after a few drinks – and it has been shown the courts take a very dim view of people who post offensive material.

“Unlike an ordinary conversation, what you say on Twitter can be amplified and accessed by so many people.

“It’s been proven around the time of the riots last summer how seriously the courts take people who post abusive or threatening messages via social media – where some were given lengthy prison sentences.

“With regard to Liam Stacey, it may be seen as a harsh sentence, but in doing so it sends a strong message out to the people that if you post a racist message then you will be punished.”

Mark Leech, editor of Converse the national newspaper for prisoners said: “It may seem harsh but I think its exactly right, it might only be a few tweets, a few comments, but what starts with racist comments ends with Stephen Lawrence – racism deserves zero tolerance.”