A Muslim chef who lost a claim of religious discrimination against Scotland Yard after complaining he was forced to cook sausages and bacon faces a legal bill of more than £75,000.
Hasanali Khoja accused the Metropolitan Police of failing to consider his Islamic beliefs when he was asked to handle pork products as a catering manager at a police station.
The £23,000-a-year chef claimed suggestions by his bosses that he should wear gloves and use tongs left him ‘stressed and humiliated’. Muslims are banned from eating pork under Islamic law.
But Mr Khoja, 62, lost his claim in May after a police employee told an employment tribunal how she saw Mr Khoja eat bacon rolls and sausages.
The Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) has now won a ruling ordering Mr Khoja to pay its costs, which total at least £76,200. In its costs claim, the Met said Mr Khoja ‘knew that he had asked for a bacon roll two or three times for personal consumption before bringing his claim and throughout the conduct of his claim’.
‘The fact that he had knowingly come into contact with pork products before bringing the claim shows that the claim had no reasonable prospect of success from the outset.’
Judge Michael Southam agreed and ruled Mr Khoja should pay costs, though these would be determined at a later date at a county court.
Mr Khoja, from Edgware, North London, who is still employed by the Met, claimed at a hearing in Watford that he could afford to pay only £80 a week as he has little income, lives in rented property and is struggling with £30,000 legal bills of his own.
But the court discovered he had sold another home last year, splitting profits of almost £200,000 with his wife and two sons.
The decision is another setback for the police chef, who believed he was on course for a large settlement when he launched his case in 2007.
Mr Khoja, who sits on a Foods Standards Agency advisory committee on Muslim issues, decided to take action after Scotland Yard chiefs placed him on unpaid leave for a year after his refusal to work with pork.
He said he was then given work in a different building but his role was downgraded.
But his case fell apart when another caterer, Mary Boakye, told the court she served him bacon rolls ‘two or three’ times at the Met canteen at Heathrow in West London.
When she told him she was surprised because his religion banned him from eating pork, Mr Khoja allegedly replied: ‘I eat them once in a while.’
Another chef said he saw Mr Khoja once happily eat a sausage dish and told the court ‘he was not as strict as some Muslims’.
Judge Southam also heard how Mr Khoja had made ‘wild and baseless’ allegations about a human resource manager, allegedly making racial facial gestures.
Mr Khoja is one of several ethnic minority staff to launch racial discrimination claims against Scotland Yard. The most high-profile was former Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur, who last year accused Sir Ian Blair of excluding him from the upper echelons of the force because of his skin colour.
Mr Ghaffur retired after receiving an out-of-court settlement and dropped the allegations.