Paratroopers’ photos defaced with swastikas and a Hitler moustache
A pair of paratroopers endured a campaign of racist abuse in which their photos were defaced with swastikas and a Hitler moustache.
The words "f* off" and "n***s" had been written on the snaps of Lance Corporal Nkululeko Zulu and Private Hani Gue while they served at 3 PARA's barracks in Colchester, Essex.
While the culprit responsible for three years of abuse has never been caught, claims of racial harassment were upheld at a Central London Employment Tribunal at Victory House, Holborn.
The Ministry of Defence is now facing a large payout.
Employment Judge Richard Baty said: "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.
"Notwithstanding the fact the perpetrator is still unknown and was not before the tribunal to give an account of his/her motivation, we find the carrying out of this act was so unpleasant 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.
"They were both entirely understandably deeply offended and made complaints. Indeed, in the case of Mr Zulu, this act was key to his decision to leave the Army.
"Furthermore, given the deeply offensive nature of the graffiti, it is entirely reasonable for it to have this effect."
The vile graffiti was discovered on Ugandan-born Pte Gue's personal photographs on 23 January 2018.
The MoD accepted it was not drawn by either of the claimants and must have been done by a member of 3 PARA.
The three photos were pinned on the door of Pte Gue's room and all had been defaced.
The words "f**k off" together with a swastika had been scrawled on one of Pte Gue and South African-born L/Cpl Zulu.
A swastika and a Hitler moustache had also been drawn on a photo of Pte Gue.
The word "n****s" had also been written across both men in a third picture that featured another private who was white.
In a written ruling Judge Baty said the graffiti was "unquestionably related to race."
A visiting corporal drew their attention to it when he joined them for a cup of tea.
L/Cpl Zulu and Pte Gue had accommodation in a particular block which was only accessible by key and their rooms were opposite each other.
The only suspect suggested by Pte Gue was ruled out in a subsequent investigation by the Royal Military Police. He had not been at the barracks that week.
The tribunal also heard in September 2014 L/Cpl Zulu was called a "black c**t" by a sergeant.
The employment judge said: "It remains unknown to this day who did this. It is somewhat mysterious in as much as it is agreed the block could only be accessed by key and so only one or two individuals had access."
"Mr Zulu was deeply offended by the remark, as was evident to others around him at the time. That is hardly surprising, given that it was a deeply offensive racial remark."
And in July 2017 a member or members of 3 PARA posted a photograph of personnel on Facebook – with a Nazi flag as a backdrop.
The employment judge said: "Whether or not the individual or individuals either posed for the photograph or posted it as an act of thoughtless stupidity or not, we consider that, as the photograph was in front of a Nazi flag and given the racial implications of that flag, the conduct was related to race.
"We accept that, from the point of view of Mr Gue and Mr Zulu – and also, clearly, from the point of view of the chain of command – this conduct was unwanted."
The tribunal also ruled that claims for Pte Gue that racist slurs were written on his door were true.
Because the complaints were made too late however, the tribunal was not able to officially rule on them.
And in the case of the Facebook post it would be difficult to prove that it was specifically aimed at them.
The tribunal also threw out a host of other claims as not proven, including Confederate flags being displayed and that a photograph of 3 PARA members with Tommy Robinson had been posted online.
They also dismissed claims that whilst in Kenya, various members of 3 Para referred to locals as 'African animals', warned staff not to behave badly as they would "go to prison and get AIDS" and told locals and children begging for food to 'f**k off'.
Pte Gue said: "These events had a significant impact on my feelings that racism was systemic within the Army and nothing was being done to tackle it."
He said most of the abuse happened when he was with A Company of 3rd Battalion, the Parachute Regiment, and that some of it came from higher ranks.
Having joined in 2012, Pte Gue would lose all respect for an institution he once reverred.
He said: "I was inspired by the regiment's history of fighting the racist Nazi regime in World War Two.
"Unfortunately, my experiences have led me to realise that the Army is not the honourable institution I once thought it to be."
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