British Army officer 'questioned why n-word was racist'

Nkulueko Zulu and Hani Gue say they suffered racial abuse

Monday, July 8, 2019

A British Army officer described black people as “coloured” and questioned why he was not allowed to say the n-word, a tribunal has heard.

Lieutenant Colonel Geoff Hargreaves allegedly made the comments during a conversation with former paratrooper Hani Gue, after Mr Gue complained about hearing soldiers on deployment in Kenya using racist language.

He had accused a fellow soldier of saying “look at these idiots running, f****** n****** don't have a clue”.

The tribunal heard Lt Col Hargreaves had questioned Mr Gue why the use of the racial slur was an issue.

He allegedly said: “If the coloured guys can do it why can't a Caucasian?”

Lt Col Hargreaves told the tribunal the use of the world coloured was appropriate in the context, and racial language is “a bit of a minefield”.

“You can no longer call a blackboard a blackboard, you have to call it a chalkboard because it is deemed offensive,” he said.

Mr Gue and fellow former paratrooper Nkulueko Zulu have taken the Ministry of Defence to a tribunal, alleging they faced racial discrimination and the Army did little to prevent it.

Mr Gue said soldiers “decorated their barracks with Nazi flags” and photos of controversial political activist Tommy Robinson.

Fellow paratrooper Captain Kurt Perzylo said he did not think the Army had a racism problem.

“Admittedly BAME [Black, Asian and minority ethnic] soldiers make up only a small percentage of the battalion but nonetheless - as far as I am aware - the battalion does not suffer from issues of racism,” he said.

A Ministry of Defence spokesperson said it took "all complaints very seriously".

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