A senior Metropolitan Police officer who used the phrase “whiter than white” faces losing his job for alleged racism and gross misconduct.

The detective superintendent is said to have made the comment in a briefing to colleagues during which he discussed the need to be faultless and above reproach in carrying out inquiries.

But a complaint was made about his choice of words which was passed to the police watchdog for investigation, according to the Evening Standard.

The highly respected officer has been placed on restricted duties while the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) investigates and has reportedly been warned the inquiry may take up to 12 months to complete.

He is attached to Scotland Yard’s anti corruption squad, the Directorate of Professional Standards.

 

Fellow officers leapt to his defence and are understood to be upset that a colleague’s career hangs in the balance for using a common phrase widely used without controversy.

They suggested that the probe was proof that the police misconduct process had got out of hand.

One told 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.”

An inquiry concerning an officer’s use of the phrase “pale, stale and male” in another force is also said to be in progress.

A spokesman for the IOPC said: “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.

“A notice is issued to inform an officer at the earliest opportunity following an allegation and to safeguard their interests. It in no way indicates that misconduct proceedings will take place.”

 

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