AN internal investigation into claims Cleveland Police carried out a covert operation into all of its Asian officers has cleared the force of any wrongdoing.

Last year, a series of claims were made against the force, including at the Home Affairs Select Committee, that Operation France, which ran during 2003 and 2004, had targeted Asian officers.

The claims came in the wake of high-profile court cases involving the force which centred around a number of Asian officers, including Mark Dias, who was recently awarded £500,000 from the force for hounding him out of his job after he was exposed as the whistleblower who revealed information about a report into claims of institutional racism.

Other cases resulted in significant payouts to Inspector Michael Wall, Sergeant Waseem Khan, PC Sharday Malik and PC Paul Brown. As well as former firearms officer Nadeem Saddique, who was awarded £457,664 in damages last year.

At the conclusion of the Operation Ocean investigation, carried out by the forces Standards and Ethics Department, a spokesman said: "In 2016 a number of claims were made by individuals, including at the Home Affairs Select Committee, that Cleveland Police had undertaken an operation, called Operation France, investigating all Asian officers.

"In response to these claims, Cleveland Police reviewed a number of historic operations. The review, entitled Operation Ocean, was concluded in December 2017.

"During the course of the review, the review team found that there was no evidence to support the claims that Operation France (or any other Cleveland Police investigation) had investigated all Asian officers. The review team concluded that Operation France itself was undertaken for proper policing reasons.

“Due to legal proceedings it would not be appropriate to comment further at this time. It is Cleveland Police’s intention to release the report into the public domain in the future.”

Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger added: "Although these matters now date back nearly 15 years, I shared the concern of many, including current Chief Constable Iain Spittal, at the claims that Cleveland Police had at any time in the past conducted a covert operation into all Asian officers.

“I am pleased that this very thorough review has found that there is no evidence to indicate that Cleveland Police ever conducted a covert operation into all Asian officers.

“The claims surrounded Operation France which ran during 2003 and 2004. It is re-assuring that the review concluded that this was a good quality, professionally conducted investigation with credible foundations."

Mr Dias, who is no longer a serving officer, said: "I'm pleased they have responded to the Home Affairs Select Committee.

"It was never said that it was all Asian but a disproportionate use against a number of officers. As there is ongoing legal action, I cannot comment further."