This was one of the very first articles that Neil Wilby wrote for the police whistleblowers’ website, uPSDWYP, back in 2012. There has been much water under the bridge since then but this piece has been reprised as, earlier this week, an Employment Tribunal judge found that racism in the ranks of West Yorkshire Police is still a live issue ten years later (read more here).
Lessons have not been learned and, without a change of chief constable and most, if not all, of the Command Team of that force, a root and branch culture reset is unlikely.
Anwar Gillespie, a Bradford father-of-two and pictured above centre, who was unlawfully arrested and assaulted by police officers after trying to help their colleagues, has won £15,000 in compensation from the West Yorkshire force after he was dragged from a neighbour’s house, assaulted and racially abused , as he tried to act as a peacemaker.
Following the usual Professional Standards Department deceit across two investigations, plus a further two years of legal stonewalling, characterised by the denial of any liability at all until two weeks before trial , West Yorkshire Police agreed, in March 2011, to pay Mr Gillespie £15,000 in damages over the incident which occurred in October, 2007.
Anwar, who has two children aged 14 and 13 [now grown up, of course], had been moving house in Great Horton, when a woman neighbour was arrested for non-payment of fines. Her 16-year-old son was seen crying and he was given permission by a police officer to go into the house to calm down the teenager. But once inside, he was grabbed by an officer and dragged out of the house.
Anwar was pulled to the floor, struck above the eye by an officer’s knee, and hit on the back of the head while face down. He was kicked and punched a number of times, his arms handcuffed behind his back, and one officer put his hand over his face and pushed his fingers into Mr Gillespie’s eyes. He was also told that ‘You f*****g Pakis think you own the country’ by a police officer. He was then held at Bradford’s notorious Trafalgar House police station, where he was detained for a full 24 hours. He suffered cuts, bruises, grazes and swelling.
Quietly spoken Mr Gillespie told Neil Wilby in interview after the police had settled his claim: “A few police officers take advantage of the power they have. It shouldn’t happen. I hope they do learn lessons from this. More training is needed for officers. I hope some disciplinary action is taken against the officers concerned in my case”.
His lack of anger towards the police was remarkable and bitterness was confined to the loss of his life partner as a result of the stress caused battling the legal case against WYP.
The Force Solicitor, Mike Percival, apologised in writing, on behalf of the now disgraced chief constable, Sir Norman Bettison. The letter to Mr Gillespie’s lawyer, Iain Gould of DPP Law, states: “West Yorkshire Police unlawfully arrested your client, assaulting him in the process, and thereafter conveyed him to Bradford South police station, where he was detained (for) a period of 24 hours.
“On behalf of the Chief Constable, I apologise unreservedly for the unlawful actions and for any pain, suffering, humiliation and upset that this caused your client. I would advise that lessons have been learned in order to stop a similar situation from happening again.”
Which would have a tiny amount of credence if, a few months later, a six man gun-toting West Yorkshire Police assault squad hadn’t turned up at 1am on Anwar Gillespie’s doorstep. They left an hour later, after pointing carbines at Anwar and his two children then placing them in the back of a caged van.
This later incident was the subject of further investigation and legal action. Anwar, once more represented by Mr Gould, succeeded in a second civil claim and again received damages and costs.
Page last updated at 2025hrs on Thursday 16th February, 2022
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Photo credit: Telegraph and Argus
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