Turning Point denies 'black-on-black racism' after accusation from former director

26 Oct 2015 News

Addiction charity Turning Point has categorically denied accusations of "black on black racism" following claims made by a former IT director at an employment tribunal hearing.

Turning Point

Addiction charity Turning Point has categorically denied accusations of "black on black racism" following claims made by a former IT director at an employment tribunal.

Ibukun Adebayo, who was dismissed from her position as IT director in August 2013, claimed on Wednesday that she suffered "race discrimination" and said authorities will not investigate because both she and the chief executive are black.

Adebayo made the discrimination claim at a preliminary appeal hearing at the Employment Appeal Tribunal at Fleetbank House near London's Blackfriars. Turning Point is appealing against a ruling earlier this year that chief executive Lord Victor Adebowale unfairly dismissed Adebayo from her post. 

Adebayo was dismissed from Turning Point after she discovered lewd emails about her from deputy chief executive David Hoare to Adebowale.

Adebayo complained about the emails but was accused of hacking and gross misconduct for viewing them and dismissed from her post.

Adebayo said she was a victim of race discrimination at the charity, with white colleagues being promoted above her - claims the charity denies.

Adebayo later claimed that the Equalities and Human Rights Commission had been slow to investigate her claims because it was reluctant to investigate instances of 'black-on-black discrimination'.

In a statement issued after the event the charity said: "Turning Point categorically denies that Ms Adebayo was a victim of “black on black” racism.

"Indeed, the Employment Tribunal found that Ms Adebayo’s substantive claims of race discrimination were unfounded and were therefore dismissed.

"Given that there are ongoing legal proceedings in relation to this matter, it would be inappropriate for Turning Point to comment further."

At the tribunal Tom Coughlin, representing Turning Point, said on the issue of race discrimination, the original tribunal found "no evidence of differentiating treatment".

Coughlin also said Adebayo had broken security policies she had written herself.

"It is a hopeless submission to say that she didn't commit misconduct," he said. On the issue of the emails, he said: “The claimant was not given permission to carry out any searches.”

In a statement made outside the hearing, Adebayo told Civil Society News that she was seeking to "spark an investigation into the underreported cases of black on black discrimination in this country".

"Racism knows no colour, creed, or status and Adebowale is not exempt from the law," she said. 

"I reported Adebowale to the Equality and Human Rights Commission at the onset of my claim. The Commission is prompt to investigate black people’s claims of racism made against white persons – but not when a company led by a black Lord is involved in discriminating against another black person. That needs to change."

Andrew Edge, representing Adebayo, said there were "inconsistencies" in the disciplinary treatments received by Adebayo and Hoare.

"It must be within an employment tribunal's gift to say that this is unreasonable," he said."Hoare's behaviour was more serious than the claimant's by way of his seniority and position as sponsor of Turning Point's equal opportunities policy."

The preliminary hearing was adjourned for judgment.

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