A MINISTRY of Defence video call aimed at tackling racism was filled with ‘racist’ and “deeply offensive” comments from staff.
The Zoom call with all Ministry of Defence staff and the armed forces was swamped with “discriminatory remarks” – forcing one of the department’s heads to threaten disciplinary action.
The Ministry of Defence video meeting about racism was flooded with ‘offensive’ and ‘discriminatory’ comments[/caption]
Comments in the call included that focusing on diversity was “at odds to fairness,” and that there was “no prejudice” in the department.
In the “all-staff dial in” last Wednesday, permanent secretary Sir Stephen Lovegrove and chief of the defence staff general Sir Nicholas Carter attempted to address the topic race and discrimination.
However, the video conference call was flooded with “offensive remarks” that left many colleagues “extremely distressed.”
In an internal email seen by The Sunday Times, Lovegrove said: “Many of the most harmful comments were posted anonymously, and this in itself calls into question why the authors felt they needed this cloak.
“I am not going to try to get behind the anonymous nature of the comments posted this week.
“However, I want to be absolutely clear that many of the comments expressed this week — and those who hold them — have no place in the MoD.”
He said that the posts in the call included “conflating ‘indigenous’ with white Britons, claims that any focus on diversity was at odds with fairness and comments insisting that there was no prejudice at the MoD.”
Many of the offensive remarks were ‘liked’ by colleagues during the online meeting.
The government department is now set to investigate who was responsible for the anonymous comments.
‘DEEPLY OFFENSIVE’ COMMENTS
The Ministry of Defence has one of the least diverse staff in Whitehall, with just 2.5 per cent of senior civil servants coming from ethnic minority backgrounds – and the department has had a long battle with accusations of racism in the armed forces.
Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, said last week that the MoD has to “reset” its “woeful” record on discrimination and that they haven’t made the department a “welcoming place for enough people.”
The minister, appointed by Boris Johnson in 2019, added: “By not having more BAME personnel, not having more women, we are losing the opportunity to have some great talent.
“It’s really, really important that this is stopped, crushed, got rid of, and we have to double our efforts.”
A source from the MoD also told The Sunday Times: “Lots of MoD staff and the armed forces are definitely not on the same page as their minister.
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“There is a massive diversity issue in the military; this is just scratching the surface.”
The department added: “Racism has no place in the armed forces or the Ministry of Defence.
“We are committed to stamping it out and have a range of measures to investigate and ensure such issues are tackled.”
Stephen Lovegrove, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Defence (left) sent an email to staff, addressing the comments made on the Zoom call[/caption]