Pubdate: Mon, 18 Mar 2002
Source: Independent  (UK)
Copyright: 2002 Independent Newspapers (UK) Ltd.
Author: Cahal Milmo
Bookmark: (Corruption)


The police commander who pioneered a controversial relaxation of rules on 
cannabis vowed to fight for his job yesterday as he faced an investigation 
into claims that he regularly used the drug himself.

Brian Paddick, who has been praised for his "innovative" policing in the 
crime hotspot of Lambeth, south London, said he was devastated by lurid 
allegations about his private life made by a former partner.

The 43-year-old officer strenuously denied claims from James Renolleau, his 
partner for five years, that they shared at least 100 cannabis joints at 
their Westminster flat during their relationship.

Mr Renolleau, a former model, told a Sunday newspaper that Mr Paddick had 
allowed him to keep a stash of the drug in their home and allowed him to 
smoke it regularly.

The claims about drug use were accompanied by further allegations - also 
dismissed as false by Mr Paddick - that he had been serially promiscuous, 
picking up strangers on beaches and in a gay sauna.

Supporters claimed yesterday that Mr Paddick, who is Britain's most senior 
openly gay police officer, was the victim of a "homophobic witch hunt" 
aimed at ousting him from his UKP93,000-a-year post.

Senior members of the Metropolitan Police Authority, the governing body for 
policing in London, will meet Sir John Stevens, the Metropolitan Police 
Commissioner, today to decide whether to launch an inquiry. The authority, 
an independent body which oversees police appointments, has the power to 
dismiss senior officers if they are found guilty of misdemeanours by a 
disciplinary panel.

Mr Paddick, who spoke yesterday to his superiors at Scotland Yard about the 
claims, said he would not be chased out of his job. "I am still the 
commander for Lambeth and I have done nothing which would make me change 
that situation. I will have the chance to put forward my views and I will 
do that when asked," he said.

"I lived with this man for five years in what I believed was an honest and 
caring relationship. I am absolutely devastated that he should say the 
things he has said. They are not true."

The commander, who revealed on Friday that his "softly, softly" approach of 
cautioning cannabis users had led to a rise in arrests of hard-drug 
dealers, said he had no knowledge of where Mr Renolleau, 36, had kept his 

Mr Paddick said: "I have never smoked cannabis. I don't know where he put 
his cannabis and on the occasions when he smoked it in my presence I would 
argue with him about it - it was not something I casually accepted."

His relationship with the Frenchman, who worked as a cashier at Westminster 
Abbey in London, ended acrimoniously two years ago. A friend of the police 
officer said: "These are wild allegations which are not founded in reality. 
They are the product of an attempt to damage Brian."

Scotland Yard said it would not comment on the allegations pending the 
meeting between Sir John and the police authority chairman, Lord Harris of 
Haringey, a Labour peer.

A spokesman for the authority said: "We are assessing the information in 
the newspaper story as well as any other material that comes to light. This 
matter will be the subject of further discussion with the commissioner."

The publication of the claims by The Mail on Sunday, which is believed to 
have paid Mr Renolleau UKP100,000 for his story, completed a torrid week 
for Mr Paddick. On Monday, he was given a dressing down during a meeting 
with Sir John for freely expressing his views on anarchy and recreational 
drug use on a radical website.

His remarks on the internet chatroom that he found the concept of anarchy 
"attractive" and that society should "screw the dealers" earned him the 
tabloid sobriquet "Commander Crackpot".

But supporters of Mr Paddick said his work in Lambeth had earned the 
respect of a community in a part of London where the police had long been 
mistrusted. Lee Jasper, chairman of the Lambeth Community Police 
Consultative Group, said: "It is extremely important that a first-class 
officer is not destroyed by some homophobic tendency in our society. These 
allegations are part of a homophobic witch hunt." 
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