London, July 11 : Sir Ian Blair, Britain's most senior policeman, has hit back at allegations of racial discrimination in the Metropolitan Police after a senior Asian officer said he was repeatedly overlooked for promotion in favour of a "golden circle" of White officers. The Metropolitan Police Commissioner, often derided for being too politically correct, said that he had "championed issues of diversity throughout my career as a senior police officer."
"I have said there is no favourite few. I absolutely refute the suggestion that any racial motivation, any bias, conscious or unconscious, could possibly influence me in decisions I have taken and the discussions around senior posts I have had," Sir Ian said.
He also disclosed that he was a mentor to a senior black public figure and that he led the way in reforming the police in the days after the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence.
Sir Ian was giving evidence at an employment tribunal of Commander Shabir Hussain.
Commander Hussain, 45, has taken the Met to an employment tribunal after he was rejected an "unprecedented" four times in his application for promotion to deputy assistant commissioner.
Sir Ian Blair had been accused by Commander Shabir Hussain of grooming a "golden circle" of white officers for promotion ahead of Black and Asian officers.
Hussain is the Met's second most senior ethnic minority officer. His tribunal comes shortly after Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur said he was considering similar action.
Giving evidence at the hearing in Stratford, east London, the Commissioner defended his record but said he had shouted at Hussain when the officer had raised a budget query at a meeting two years ago on a multi-billion pound project.
He said: "I am pretty sure I did raise my voice with Shabir. I did say that I was not interested in someone just bringing a new problem to my table. I wanted a solution. I think Shabir persisted and I probably was pretty brusque."
He had apologised by email the next day, The Telegraph quoted Sir Ian, as saying.
Hussain is suing the Met authority, its chairman Len Duvall and Sir Ian for race discrimination and unlawful deduction of wages. The hearing continues.