Black paras were racially abused, tribunal rules
- Credit: Peter Lawson/Eastnews
Two paratroopers suffered “highly offensive” racial harassment while based at Colchester garrison, an employment judge has ruled.
Nkululeko Zulu and Hani Gue claimed they suffered racial discrimination and harassment while serving with the Parachute Regiment and the Army did not take reasonable steps to prevent it.
They took the Ministry of Defence to a tribunal which was told someone drew a swastika, a Hitler moustache and the words "f*** off" and "n******" on photographs of the men.
The culprit was never found but employment Judge Richard Baty said the graffiti was "unquestionably related to race".
A written judgment said: "Notwithstanding the fact that the perpetrator is still unknown and was not before the tribunal to give an account of his/her motivation, we find that the carrying-out of this act was so unpleasant that it can only have been done with the purpose of violating the claimants' dignity and creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating and offensive environment for them."
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The incident happened while the men were serving with the 3rd Battalion the Parachute Regiment in Colchester in 2018.
Mr Zulu and Mr Gue had rooms opposite each other in an accommodation block which was only accessible by key.
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At around 9am on January 23 2018, Mr Gue was in Mr Zulu's room having a cup of tea and, soon afterwards, a colleague came to join them.
On his arrival, the colleague noticed three photographs on the door to Mr Gue's room had been defaced.
The judgment said it is not disputed that graffiti was discovered on Mr Gue's photographs, adding: "The conduct in question is therefore proven."
It added: "The conduct was unquestionably unwanted; the graffiti in question was of the most unpleasant nature, set out on Mr Gue's personal photographs and was racially highly offensive."
The tribunal concluded the allegations of harassment are "therefore established and succeed in relation to both claimants", adding: "It is not, therefore, necessary or appropriate to consider the matter as an act of direct discrimination."
Other complaints made by the two men were dismissed due to being "out of time" while their remaining complaints failed.
Mr Gue, who described himself as a black African of Ugandan nationality, joined the Army in October 2012. He formally asked to leave in January 2018.
Mr Zulu, a lance corporal, described himself as black South African and joined the Army in June 2008.
He formally applied to leave the forces almost 10 years later.
The men's solicitor Amy Harvey, of Banks Kelly Solicitors, said: "The claimants have succeeded in establishing their claim against the MoD that they suffered racial harassment during their time in the Army and that the MoD did not take all reasonable steps to prevent such harassment.
"The claimants intend to seek compensation and recommendations from the tribunal that the MoD implement better equality and diversity training within the armed forces."