I see that the CPS has decided to prosecute Commander Ali Dizaei for offences of perverting the course of justice and misconduct in a public office, arising out of an incident which occurred last autumn outside a London restaurant, during which he had arrested a man on what were, allegedly, trumped up charges.
Regular readers will be familiar with the stance adopted by the Throne in respect of those charged with criminal offences: all of them - whoever they are, however famous, or even notorious -are entitled to the presumption of innocence until such time that their guilt - if such is the finding of the court - is established beyond reasonable doubt. This, of course extends to Mr Dizaei every bit as much as it did to Steven Gerrard, about whom I wrote when he was arrested and charged with offences earlier this year.
As such, and with the matter now sub-judice, I do not propose to offer any further comment on the case itself; but there are one or two issues arising from it which do merit further discussion.
Firstly, I am sure that the decision to prosecute such a high profile individual - Dizaei is both the President and legal advisor to the openly activist Black Police Association, and as a Metropolitan Police Commander one of the most senior police officers in the country - was not taken lightly. Indeed, I'm absolutely sure that the lawyer responsible for deciding in favour of his prosecution, Gaon Hart, will have agonised over it endlessly. Only time and due process will show whether that decision was justified and we must await the final result of the prosecution to make that assessment.
Secondly, if I were Nick Hardwick, the Chair(man) of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), I would have sought the most cast-iron assurances possible from the team which investigated the case against Dizaei that they had left no stone unturned in their search for evidence. Because, and make no mistake about it, if the IPCC investigation comes up short, the resulting enquiry will be very uncomfortable indeed for Hardwick, who might even find his position untenable if the enquiry is severely criticised.
Thirdly, of course, this is a high-stakes case for the Metropolitan Police; a fact which will not have been lost on its Commissioner, Sir Paul Stephenson and the entirety of his command team, because not only was Dizaei acquitted the last time the Met investigated him, but as a consequnce of that acquittal, they agreed to pay him several tens of thousands of pounds and promote him to the rank of Chief Superintendent in order to persuade him not to sue them and to smooth his way back into the force.
If he were to be acquitted a second time, I shudder to think what the settlement 'price' would be; I just hope Her Majesty the Queen is still enjoying her normal, robust good health at the time, or his eyes might even alight on her position.
More seriously, though, I'm sure that the attitude of the BPA, as expressed by Alfred John, the Chair(man) of the London branch, who described the decision to prosecute Dizaei as 'outrageous' and 'the result of personal vendettas' is already causing Sir Paul more than a little concern, for reasons so obvious that I needn't waste my time by recording them here.
All in all, then, a game of high stakes for all involved; from Dizaei himself, who will face professional ruin if convicted, to the IPCC and CPS, who will face severe (and potentially career-ending) criticism if their work is found to be of a less than excellent standard and to the BPA which faces the potential embarrassment of the conviction of a man who is not only their national president and legal advisor, but in many ways the 'face' of their organisation and finally, the Metropolitan Police who will have a significant issue on their hands, whatever the verdict.
A game of high stakes indeed.