Religious and racial discrimination in the Army

06th Jul 2023

Our client Mr Ebrima Bayo has won his case against the Army for race and religious discrimination. You can read about his case, as reported by the Guardian, here:

Mr Bayo served more than 8 years in the RLC. He really loved his job and his annual appraisals were excellent. But while on deployment in 2017 he suffered a series of deeply offensive episodes which were rooted in nasty, pernicious Islamophobia. Mr Bayo also believes there was a racist aspect to his treatment. He was told he could not observe Ramadan – then, when he objected, it was made incredibly difficult for him in lots of ways. He was the target of direct explicit abuse from other soldiers.

He tried to do the right thing. He spoke to his chain of command. They gaslighted him. He tried to use the Army’s service complaints system. They rejected his complaint in its entirety. He recalls that he was advised by his Assisting Officer that he needed to wait until the service complaints process concluded before approaching the Employment Tribunal. That advice was wrong.  When he tried to bring his claim at the end of the complaints process, the MoD wasted no time in trying to get the claim thrown out for being late. Mr Bayo had to take his case all the way to the Employment Appeal Tribunal to overcome that argument. Finally, when the Employment Tribunal agreed to hear his full case, the MoD wanted to settle.

At no point does anyone inside the Army, or advising the Army, seemed to have stopped and asked itself, ‘what is the right thing to do here?’ It was obvious Mr Bayo had been wronged. That was eventually accepted by the Army’s Service Complaints Appeal Board two years later (where they eventually used an independent panel member, who happens to be a civilian judge) that found there had been anti-Islamic bias in the chain of command. Instead Mr Bayo had to rely upon his extraordinary persistence and commitment to having these failures exposed, and tolerate a bullying and deeply patronising approach from the MoD and its lawyers, just to get some sort of acknowledgement and justice. All this could have been avoided if the Army had just dealt with the situation appropriately and fairly at the outset. Mr Bayo’s case not only reveals the Islamophobia he and others had to deal with, it also shows the serious failings of the service complaints system (that soldiers have to use if they want to access the independent Employment Tribunal). We are confident that there will have been no consequences for the decision maker who decided on his service complaint originally, rejecting Mr Bayo’s well-founded allegations in their entirety on the basis of a seriously flawed and biased investigation.

Mr Bayo wanted to remain in the Army. He is a British citizen with a young family who wanted to develop his career. He would have continued to be an asset to them. Now he believes the Army is an institutionally racist organisation and he has abandoned it.

What a loss.

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