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Cath Everett

Sift Media

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

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Former press officer sues GCHQ for bullying amid “widespread” racism claims


A former senior press officer is suing GCHQ for allegedly having been a victim of “widespread” race discrimination and constructive dismissal after being victimised for making “public interest disclosures” as a whistleblower.

Alfred Bacchus claims that his managers bullied him while he was a senior press officer at the government’s secretive spy base in Cheltenham, which monitors electronic communications such as emails and ‘phone calls.
His case, which opens at the central London employment tribunal today, threatens to expose the inner workings of a notoriously closed world. It starts on the same day as the inquest into the death of Gareth Williams, the GCHQ spy, whose body was found in a bag in his London flat in 2010.
Bacchus, who is of Asian origin, attests that, two years ago, he was blocked from publishing an official 28-page report into race bias inside the organisation, sections of which were leaked to the press in July 2010.
The study warned that not enough staff from ethnic minority backgrounds were being recruited to help in the fight against terrorism. Instead, black and Asian intelligence officers complained of a racist culture, in which they were insulted by white colleagues and challenged over their loyalty to the UK.
As the trial progresses, Bacchus is expected to name senior managers who, he claims, treated him with “racist contempt” as part of a sustained bullying campaign.
He resigned in August 2011 and is seeking £150,000 for lost earnings and hurt to his feelings.
His lawyer Joseph Sykes told the Daily Telegraph: “If what my client says is found proven, it shows that nothing has changed at GCHQ since the 2010 report, which highlighted allegations of widespread racist conduct.”
Although the organisation needed black and Asian officers as analysts and for undercover work to deal with threats from terrorist organisations, it had instead been “accused of distrusting the ethnic minority staff it recruits”, he added.
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Cath Everett

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

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