Leroy Logan: Who is the Met Police officer in Steve McQueen’s Red, White and Blue?
Star Wars actor John Boyega is set to star later in the BBC’s true story of a trailblazing black police officer in 1980s London who gave up a job as a scientist to try to change racist attitudes from within the police force. So, who is Leroy Logan?
Leroy Logan is a former superintendent in the Metropolitan Police, and was one of London’s top officers until his retirement seven years ago.
Born in 1957 to Jamaican parents, Logan was awarded an MBE by the Queen in 2001 for his role in developing anti-racist policies for the police.
He is an advocate for good relationships between the police and Britain’s minority ethnic communities, the founder of social justice charity Voyage – which aims to empower black young people – and an adviser on knife crime.
Logan’s life was also the inspiration for director Steve McQueen’s Red, White and Blue, one of five original films in the Small Axe series about the black British experience.
After finishing university, Logan became a research scientist in north London’s Royal Free Hospital.
Within three years he decided he wanted to join the Met Police, but between applying to join the force and receiving his starting date, Logan’s father was assaulted by two police officers.
Speaking in August – ahead of the publication of his book Closing Ranks, My Life as a Cop – Logan said the incident left him wanting to “put that idea to one side”, until he “started to see that my worst nightmare could be my biggest breakthrough”.
McQueen’s film will show Logan first had to face the consequences of his father’s disapproval, and the subsequent blatant racism he experienced in his new role as a constable.
Speaking to BBC Breakfast earlier this week, the former officer told how he grappled with the decision join the force.
“I thought ‘no way am I going to leave the world of science and go against my father’, but the calling kept nagging at me,” he said.
“All my nearest and dearest, my wife, my friends, everyone was saying why are you doing this?”
He added that he did eventually get the support of his loved ones, but the move left him “questioning my sanity for about 10 years”.
Logan said he asked himself: “Why have I left the comfortable world of science in a great hospital, the Royal Free, to go and work in a very militaristic type of culture, which had the casual racism and you know quite a hostile environment for a black person?”
He has called for people to watch Sunday’s the film, saying actor John Boyega “does me proud”.
And in a tweet in August, Logan wrote: “Never in my wildest dreams would I’ve thought my life story would get to the attention of film director Steve McQueen, starred by John Boyega and part of the [BBC’s] Small Axe series.
“You couldn’t make this up and I’ve had to pinch myself.”
Logan is an established commentator on policing in black communities, and the justice system.
In an interview with the BBC earlier this year, he said policing was regressing to where it was more than 20 years ago, and reminded him of a “pre-Macpherson era”.
The Macpherson report, published in 1999, investigated the Met’s response to the death of Stephen Lawrence, a black teenager who had been stabbed to death in a racist attack in south-east London six years earlier.
It concluded the investigation had been “marred by a combination of professional incompetence, institutional racism and a failure of leadership”.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick, who is also Britain’s most senior police officer, has previously said that she does not believe the force is still institutionally racist.