Paratroopers faced 'highly offensive' racial harassment with Swastika and Hitler moustache drawn in barracks
Two British paratroopers who an employment judge says were subject to “highly offensive” racial harassment have won a racial discrimination claim against the Ministry of Defence.
Nkulueko Zulu and Hani Gue alleged that they suffered racial discrimination and harassment, and the Army did not take reasonable steps to prevent it.
An employment tribunal heard that someone had drawn a swastika, a Hitler moustache and the words “f*** off” and “n******” on photographs of the men.
Judge Baty said this 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.”
The judgment outlined that Mr Zulu and Mr Gue had accommodation in a particular block in a barracks, which was only accessible by key, and their rooms were opposite each other.
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 that the three photographs on the door to Mr Gue’s room had been defaced.
The words “f*** off” together with a swastika had been written on one photo of Mr Gue and Mr Zulu, someone had drawn a swastika and a Hitler moustache on a photo of Mr Gue, and on a photograph of Mr Gue, Mr Zulu and another (white) private, the word “n******” had been written across Mr Gue and Mr Zulu.
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 adds: “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 these 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.”
Some 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 and was later assigned to the 3rd Battalion (3 Para) A Company.
He formally asked to leave in January 2018.
Mr Zulu, who served as a lance corporal in the Parachute Regiment and described himself as black South African, joined the Army in June 2008 and 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.”