Murdered refugee let down by ‘institutional racism’ from police and council

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Murdered refugee let down by 'institutional racism' from police and council
The Safer Bristol Partnership found a ‘collective failure’ by the council and police in the case of Bijan Ebrahimi (Picture: Bhatt Murphy Solicitors/PA Wire)

A police and council have been accused of racism after a man wrongly accused of being a paedophile was murdered despite repeated calls for help.

Refugee Bijan Ebrahimi was let down by police and officials who ‘repeatedly sided with the abusers’, according to an independent review.

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Iranian Mr Ebrahimi, 44, was beaten unconscious and then set alight at his home in Brislington, Bristol, by Lee James who wrongly believed he had filmed his children.

James was jailed for life and two police officers lost their jobs over how Mr Ebrahimi was treated in the run up to the killing in 2013.

A report by the Safer Bristol Partnership has now found a ‘collective failure’ by both Avon and Somerset Police and Bristol City Council.

Murdered refugee let down by 'institutional racism' from police and council
Lee James pictured was jailed for life (Picture: Universal News And sport)

Mr Ebrahimi repeatedly reported being the victim of racially motivated offending from 2005 until his death in 2013.

Safer Bristol said he was treated as a ‘primary perpetrator, rather than the primary victim’ of abuse and mistreatment that started five years before he was killed.

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The report says: ‘There is evidence that Mr Ebrahimi was repeatedly targeted for racist abuse and victimisation by some members of the public, that this was repeatedly reported to Avon and Somerset constabulary and Bristol city council and that representatives of both organisations repeatedly sided with his abusers.

‘Mr Ebrahimi was disadvantaged by the inappropriate responses by Avon and Somerset constabulary and Bristol city council to his racist victimisation.

‘Representatives of those organisations displayed a distinct lack of understanding of his plight and, accordingly, unwitting prejudice against him.

Murdered refugee let down by 'institutional racism' from police and council
Stephen Norley was jailed for assisting an offender (Picture: Universal News And sport)

‘There is evidence of both discriminatory behaviour and institutional racism on the part of Bristol city council and Avon and Somerset constabulary,’ the report found.

‘On occasions, Mr Ebrahimi was treated with disrespect and even contempt by some police officers.’

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Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, said: ‘On behalf of Bristol City Council we sincerely and wholeheartedly apologise for the failings in the council’s treatment of Bijan.

‘We appreciate that no amount of lessons learned or changes in practice can possibly mitigate the impact this had on Bijan and his family.

‘Every effort will continue to be made to further identify how we need to change and improve.

Murdered refugee let down by 'institutional racism' from police and council
Footage filmed by Bijan Ebrahimi showing his neighbour Lee James (Picture: Avon and Somerset Police/PA Wire)

‘We are committed to working with the family and other partners to achieve this objective in memory of Bijan.

‘We apologise for failing to adequately support Bijan as a victim. We accept all of the findings.

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‘We would like once again to offer our sincere condolences, remorse and apologise to Bijan’s family.’

Alison Comley, the chair of the Safer Bristol Partnership and a senior officer at Bristol City Council, said: ‘We are committed to learning the lessons from what went wrong.

‘We thank Mr Ebrahimi’s family for their dignity and strength in working with us through an extremely difficult time and for their commitment in helping all agencies to improve how they work with victims.

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‘As chair of the partnership I am sorry for the collective failure of organisations to support Mr Ebrahimi as a victim of anti-social behaviour and hate crime.’

An Avon and Somerset police spokesman said: ‘We recognise and fully accept the findings.

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‘We’d like to reiterate our sincere apologies to Mr Ebrahimi’s family who’ve shown great courage throughout. We failed him when he needed us the most and for that we’re extremely sorry.

‘We continue to do everything in our power to prevent a tragedy like this from ever happening again.’

Police said wide-ranging changes had already been made.

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