A FORMER police officer who blew the whistle on institutional racism is suing the force for abuse of power.

Mark Dias, an ex-sergeant at Cleveland Police, phoned The Northern Echo with an anonymous tip-off four years ago, stating that an equality review carried out within the force had uncovered some elements of institutional racism.

After the story ran, he claims he found he was the subject of an investigation which included accessing his telephone data, and those of journalists, a federation representative and a solicitor, and he later left the force.

Mr Dias, from Eaglescliffe, who was at one point a temporary inspector, said: "The basis of my claim is that I whistleblew about institutional racism at Cleveland Police and was a victim of a campaign by the professional standards department.

"They fabricated an investigation into me based on the conversation I had with The Northern Echo, which involved the use of surveillance, but there was never any substance to that allegation and they have subsequently confirmed that they always knew there were never any documents leaked to The Northern Echo.

"Since then there have been several whistleblowers come forward from professional standards making statements through solicitors that there was a suspicion in the force that all their Asian officers were corrupt and that there was an operation carried out against them, which targeted all Asian officers, starting from 2002.

"I left the organisation because of the treatment I received."

He said he was now suing the police for misfeasance in public office, which translates as an abuse of power in public office.

Cleveland Police last night confirmed a former officer had brought a civil claim, but said they were unable to comment further at this time.

A spokeswoman added: "We have received concerns about police operations which are alleged to have been disproportionately focused on BME officers.

"We have been clear to our staff and communities that there is no ongoing operation of this nature as was suggested within the Home Affairs Select Committee.

"We are conducting a thorough assessment into whether, as alleged, Cleveland Police has ever, in the past, undertaken any operation which could fit this description and we are keeping the IPCC informed throughout.”