AN investigation has been launched into the police’s handling of planned protests in the city involving the English Defence League and counter demonstrators.

Around 150 supporters of the EDL, marching in opposition to plans for a new mosque on Stanley Road, were opposed by an estimated 500 counter-protesters on September 1.

Taking place just weeks after another rally on July 21, dozens of police officers from across the Midlands were drafted in, with the two groups of protesters only allowed within 150 metres of each other.

However, a West Mercia Police spokesman has told us this week: “There is an ongoing investigation by the force’s Professional Standards Department in relation to concerns raised by a member of the public regarding some aspects of the policing of the planned protests on September 1.”

Muslim city resident Zabier Riasat, who was involved in the counter protest in July, said he was issued with a dispersal order and fixed penalty notice, and arrested and taken to Hereford on the morning of the September marches.

He claims he has a letter from South Worcestershire Superintendent Damian Pettit apologising for his treatment and assuring him the order and notice had been removed from his criminal record.

Appearing before magistrates last week on two charges of racially, religiously aggravated harassment for an unrelated incident, the 37-year-old’s solicitor Gary Harper also referred to the letter.

Mr Riasat has told the Worcester News he is behind the complaint to police, which has led to the investigation.

Asked about Supt Pettit’s letter and the investigation, the police spokesman said: “As this matter is still on-going, we cannot comment at this time.”

Speaking in September last year, Supt Pettit said: “We issued a dispersal order throughout Worcester city centre on the September 1. One member of the public was arrested and taken to Hereford custody.

“The fixed penalty notice was reviewed and subsequently rescinded and the individual that was the subject to the notice has been fully updated.”

We reported in December how members of the city’s Muslim community felt betrayed by police after they did not charge members of the EDL in relation to alleged Islamophobic chanting during the second rally.

Campaigner Usnan Ghazi said he and others in the city’s Muslim community want Chief Superintendent Mark Travis to step down after allegedly promising arrests would be made.

Mr Riasat’s appearance in court on March 28 related to an incident in which he was pulled over by police and called them “Zionists, Israeli pigs”.

He told the Worcester News after the hearing: “This is clear cut double standards. I don’t know what cloud cuckoo land they are living in.”

He said he was called a “Muslim terrorist” by EDL members in July but claims police brushed it off as “freedom of speech”.

Referring to the incident he was in court for, he said: “I called them an Israeli because they were treating me the same way they treat Palestinians.”