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THE same British army regiment that fired at posters of Jeremy Corbyn was condemned by a court today for defacing photos of black soldiers in its unit with racist graffiti.
Judge Richard Baty at the Central London Employment Tribunal ruled that unidentified members of 3rd Battalion the Parachute Regiment drew swastikas and the word “n****r” at Merville Barracks in Colchester last January.
The incident came to light in a claim brought by two former paratroopers, South African Nkululeko Zulu and Ugandan Hani Gue, who served with British forces as commonwealth members.
In a reserved judgment released today, Mr Baty found: “The words ‘f**k 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 and Mr Zulu and another (white) private, the word “n****r” had been written across Mr Gue and Mr Zulu.”
He said: “The graffiti was, therefore, unquestionably related to race.”
Mr Baty said “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.”
But the judge ruled that 11 other allegations brought by the claimants stretching back to 2014 were “out of time” and therefore inadmissible.
These included claims that 3rd Para members had displayed Confederate flags, posed for pictures with far-right criminal Tommy Robinson and described Kenyan soldiers as “African animals” while on a training exercise in their country.
Afghan war veteran Joe Glenton told the Morning Star that this case shows there is “institutional racism” in the army.
“This ruling adds to a growing body of evidence that serious reforms are required to address a long-standing and deep-seated culture of institutional racism in the UK military,” he said.
“According to a recent defence select committee report on the military’s ‘independent’ ombudsman, BAME [black and minority ethnic] personnel and women have remained — for successive years — sorely over-represented in complaints statistics, including those for discrimination and harassment.”
Mr Glenton, who now works for the ForcesWatch campaign group, said: “This is despite the Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) attempt to instrumentalise diversity and representation as a recruiting tool.”
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.”
An MoD spokesman said: “We note the decision of the tribunal today.
“As a modern and inclusive employer, the armed forces do not tolerate unacceptable behaviour in any form.
“Any allegations of inappropriate behaviour are taken extremely seriously and investigated thoroughly — as evidenced by our taking up of recommendations in the Wigston review into inappropriate behaviours published earlier this year.”
In July Air Marshal Michael Wigston said the scale of sexual offences and bullying among troops was “bleak” and “damages the UK armed forces’ hard-won reputation.”
His report, which contained 36 recommendations for the MoD, was commissioned after allegations emerged that six serving soldiers had sexually assaulted a 17-year-old girl in her sleep.
Mr Glenton, who was imprisoned by the army after he criticised the Afghan war, said: “Every new scandal makes the case for an armed forces union to be founded as a basic self-defence mechanism so that soldiers, sailors and airmen can go about their doubtless difficult work with at least the dignity they deserve.”
His call for an armed forces union has the backing of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who wants a ban on troops joining trade unions to be abolished.
Only members of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, who deliver logistical support to the navy, are currently allowed to unionise and many are members of the RMT.
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