"As soon as you raise your head above the parapet, your career is finished, and everyone in the police service knows that"
- Gurpal Virdi, 8th May 2012
"How was it possible that such an impressive officer would be persecuted and prosecuted in both service and in retirement?"
- Sir Peter Bottomley, 20th March 2018
Gurpal Virdi grew up in Southall, where he first became aware of the inequalities experienced by ethnic minorities. He decided at a young age to join the police and was the first Asian from Hounslow to join the Met. During his thirty years’ service, he was very vocal in challenging the mistreatment of ethnic minority communities.
In 2012, after leaving the police, Gurpal carried the Olympic Torch from Richmond to Hounslow on Kew Bridge. Was an elected councillor for the London borough of Hounslow, he continues to campaign for equality and human rights. He is a trained tutor for adult education and devotes much of his time to voluntary work.
- Fighting Racism within the Metropolitan Police -
Throughout his career, Gurpal Virdi has endured false and unfounded accusations of racism, rejection by colleagues and has had numerous attempts at promotion turned down.
Two decades ago, he was sacked after being falsely accused of sending racist mail to colleagues at Ealing police station in west London. Mr Virdi was one of 13 black and Asian officers who received a printed image of a black man accompanied by the message: “Not wanted. Keep the police force white, so leave now or else.” Scotland Yard erroneously claimed that Mr Virdi himself had sent the mail, sparked by anger at being turned down for promotion.
After the force apologised, paid damages and Mr Virdi returned to work, he was shunned and sidelined for a decade. He took every opportunity to take secondments that would take him away from the atmosphere at Scotland Yard until he finally left.
- The Victim of a Racist Vendetta -
He served as a councillor in west London until 2017, sitting as an independent after being dropped by the Labour Party and his then-mentor, the capital’s current Mayor, Sadiq Khan, when the Metropolitan Police made public the news that he had been charged with indecent assault. His accuser claimed that he had waited nearly three decades to come forward but had become emboldened by the exposure of Jimmy Savile as a paedophile.
The accuser told police that Mr Virdi had attacked him and shoved a retractable police baton up his backside. The only problem? It wasn’t true. Such batons were not in use in Britain at the time of the alleged attack – but the case still made its way to a crown court before a jury cleared the former officer in less than an hour in 2014. Gurpal Virdi is confident that he is the victim of a vendetta at senior levels within Scotland Yard after he criticised the force at the inquiry into the 1993 murder of the black teenager Stephen Lawrence.
- Addressing the issue in Parliament -
Conservative MP Sir Peter Bottomley, who campaigned in the Lawrence case, has written to the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary, as well as police and justice officials, to investigate events surrounding the prosecution of Mr Virdi. Sir Peter has now taken his issue further in calling for an official enquiry into the "bogus charges" laid against Gurpal Virdi. He has submitted an Early Day Motion, calling for a parliamentary debate on the matter, and has raised questions with several senior members of the Government. He has been joined by Gurpal Virdi's local MP, Seema Malhotra.
On the 28th of March, Sir Peter successfully requested to meet with the Prime Minister Theresa May to discuss the matter and how to eradicate institutionalised racism from such important establishments as the Metropolitan Police.