The detective superintendent from Scotland Yard, will face an independent disciplinary hearing for “gross misconduct” the Times of London reported. The Independent Office for Police Complaints (IOPC) has been tasked to investigate the allegation of “racism” against the officer as part of a broader inquiry.
“I can confirm that as part of Operation Embley into allegations of serious corruption and malpractice within the Directorate of Professional Standards a notice of investigation has been served on an officer informing them we are investigating the alleged use of language deliberately intended to offend and that had racist undertones,” said a spokeman for the IOPC.
“A notice is issued to inform an officer at the earliest opportunity following an allegation and to safeguard their interests.” The officer will now be forced to call in the services of a lawyer to defend himself.
The officer had been giving a briefing to his colleagues during which he said that law enforcement needed to lead by example and be exemplary in their police work.
The officer is a member of the police anti-corruption unit, but he has been suspended from his usual activities and was put on restricted duty after a complaint was made about his choice of words – which happens to be a standard British expression – according to the Evening Standard.
But fellow officers are extremely unhappy that a colleague’s faultless career now hangs in the balance for using a common phrase widely used in English. A fellow officer who is aware of the investigation, has told the Evening Standard that the comment did not warrant a misconduct process.
The colleague complained to the Standard: “There was no bad intent in this comment, it may have been a poor use of language but this is not what the misconduct process is for.
“This is not corruption, this is not serious wrongdoing. There should be informal ways of dealing with this, particularly at a time when we are so short of experienced officers.”
The highly respected officer has meanwhile been warned the inquiry could take up to 12 months to complete. He has denied any wrongdoing and is said to be cooperating fully with the investigation.
On social media the investigation is being described as “Orwellian” because such a trivial matter is being treated as a major transgression. To most the phrase “whiter than white” is a common figure of speech used to describe moral fortitude, and not skin colour.
A spokesman for the Plain English Campaign agreed with the notion: “As the phrase means ‘morally beyond reproach’ and is used in that context with that intent, it seems fairly ludicrous that the officer in question is being investigated at all, let alone for ‘gross misconduct’. ”
The expression a “good egg”, meaning a good person, has also been discouraged in UK police ranks because it is deemed to be a “racist” term. It is argued that some may be reminded of “egg and spoon”, which is Cockney rhyming slang for the highly offensive racist term “coon”.