UK: Cop Busted for Joke
Posted on: 2008-01-18 18:30:01
Bacon gift to Muslim officer costs Pc's job
Ham Panic in Maine
By John Steele, Crime Correspondent
A police officer has been forced into resigning after he gave a Muslim colleague a pack of bacon and a bottle of wine as a joke present during a Christmas Day party.
Pc Rob Murrie gave the gift to his colleague as part of a "Secret Santa" at Luton station, though the consumption of alcohol and bacon is forbidden under Islam.
However, even though the Muslim officer did not complain and thought the present funny, senior officers in the Bedfordshire force were not amused. They declared that "behaviour of this nature is not tolerated" and welcomed Pc Murrie's resignation.
The 26-year-old officer said he had "no choice but to resign" - after six years in the force - given the current politically correct climate in policing.
However, the recipient of the present, 31-year-old Pc Arshad Mahmood, said that while he considered the pack of bacon "a bit below the belt", he still regarded Pc Murrie as "a good officer and a good friend".
According to Pc Mahmood, who joined the force in September 2005, about 18 of his colleagues had decided to join in the Secret Santa - with each member of a group given the name of another to supply with an anonymous gift.
"We opened our presents in the canteen at breakfast time on Christmas Day. The gifts were chosen depending on the person's personality, and cost about £10."
One officer received a bus pass and a timetable because he lived so close to the police station that he did not need a car. Others received "boring" presents, Pc Mahmood said.
"When I pulled my present out, I did not realise that I had been given a bottle of wine," added PC Mahmood, who is married with a married with a child.
"Everyone was joking but I thought the packet of bacon was a bit below the belt. Judging from the reaction of everyone else, they thought it was a bit below the belt as well."
However, Pc Mahmood believes it was "not meant in a malicious way, just a bit of banter". He told a sergeant, who was "really disgusted", that he knew it was meant as a joke and did not want to make a formal complaint.
"I just took it on the chin. But someone else in the room must have thought it was a racist incident, and reported it," the officer said.
Pc Murrie, whose family said he had gone abroad, said: "I had no choice but to resign because of the political implications and negative impact on the force if it ever became public.