In the British Army, it is worse to accuse someone of racism than it is to be racist.

13th Dec 2023

Our client, Dwight Pile-Gray, has won his Employment Tribunal claim against the Army. The Tribunal found that he suffered direct race discrimination, harassment and victimisation. The BBC has reported his case, as has the Times, here:

As Dwight says, in the British Army, it is worse to accuse someone of racism than it is to be racist.

At every single stage, the Army could have dealt with this situation differently but instead they doubled down. The Army refused to listen to or engage with Dwight on the issues of racial discrimination. From the initial incident, the response of the chain of command, the decision to discipline Dwight, the appalling service complaints process that treated him with such contempt, to the adversarial approach taken by Army during the litigation – at every stage the Army got it badly wrong.

The Army’s Values & Standards stipulate:

The British Army provides opportunity for all. Respect for Others reflects our belief that everyone is born free and equal in dignity. It follows that everyone must be treated fairly and with dignity and respect regardless of: gender; ethnicity (including nationality); sexual orientation; age; disability; gender reassignment; marriage or civil partnership; pregnancy and maternity; religion; belief or non-belief; rank and position.

The Values & Standards would appear to provide the necessary building blocks for countering racial prejudice and discrimination in the Army. In fact they appear to require, as a necessity, an active and transformative approach to dismantling racism and all forms of discrimination.

The Ministry of Defence has issued the usual standard response. Apparently it does not tolerate discrimination in any form. If that was true, it would not have defended this case, gaslighting Dwight and forcefully denying that race had anything to do with his poor treatment.

It will be interesting to see what, if anything, MoD chooses to do in light of this judgment and whether it decides to try and live by its own Values and Standards and to achieve what they set out to achieve, the fostering of ‘strong bonds of mutual respect and confidence in each other.’

Sandeep Kaur

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