A black policeman accusing the West Midlands Chief Constable of racial discrimination has told a tribunal how he was accused of trying to take a prisoner's cannabis for his own use. Sgt Andrew 'Max' Lewin was suspended after being suspected of taking the drug while booking a man into custody at Bournville Lane police station on July 21, 2002, it heard. The 39-year-old told the hearing in Birmingham yesterday how he placed a piece of paper over a small amount of cannabis which dropped out of the prisoner's match box before turning to the arresting officer and asking: "Are you old school?" His colleague took this to mean Sgt Lewin wanted to keep the drug himself - a view shared by superiors who suspended him. But Sgt Lewin said he was trying to prevent a violent prisoner, who was charged with wounding, from becoming more agitated and intended to charge him for possession of the drug after giving him time to calm down. "The prisoner was crying and showing signs of self-harm or even suicide. I didn't want him to be arrested at that time for a small amount of cannabis," said Sgt Lewin. The process of booking in the prisoner was filmed on CCTV cameras and the cannabis was later registered in the correct way by Sgt Lewin who was eventually reinstated to duty and no charges brought against him. He was transferred to West Bromwich police station and claims to have been the victim of a discriminatory view of black men and cannabis still evident at West Midlands Police. Eight officers in all are named as respondents in the case including Chief Constable Paul Scott-Lee. The hearing is expected to last seven days. Sgt Lewin told the tribunal how he boasted an exemplary record over 20 years with the force but admitted being cautioned in 2000 for neglect of duty.