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Friday, October 06, 2006


Mark Day

We should be careful about leaping to judgement in this case without being in full possession of the facts.

Yes, a police officer's primary loyalty ought to be to the impartiality of his office, and he should expect during the course of his duties to be deployed in situations to which he might have some personal political or moral objection.

However, there will always be cases, particularly during periods of heightened political tension or conflict, where an officer's background could put his personal safety or that of his loved ones at risk. During the Troubles in Northern Ireland, Catholic officers were routinely exempt from certain duties for fear of reprisals on them and their families.

If PC Basha was granted exemption from guarding the Israeli embassy on the basis of a personal moral objection that would of course be entirely wrong. However, according to reports, his wife is of Lebanese extraction and had family (both Muslim and Christian) living in Lebanon at the time when Israel was engaged in military operations in the country. PC Basha is said to have feared reprisals against himself or his family if he had been deployed at the embassy during the conflict.

Given the situation at the time, this seems perfectly plausible, and it would have been negligent of his superiors not to have taken his concerns seriously. At the very least, therefore, we should wait for the facts of the case to emerge before leaping to conclusions.

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