GCHQ faces racial discrimination employment tribunal
CLAIMS of racial discrimination at GCHQ will be heard before a tribunal next month.
And the employment case will now mainly take place in public. It comes after efforts by the Cheltenham-based listening post to impose a media ban were thrown out.
The tribunal centres on former GCHQ senior press officer Alfred Bacchus and his time working for the government agency. He claims that there was persistent racial harassment by management in papers lodged at the Central London Employment Tribunal.
And staff working above Mr Bacchus could be named during the tribunal following a battle to keep them under wraps.
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GCHQ had wanted to keep the names secret, fearing its staff could be subject to attacks if they were made public.
But a ruling was made by the tribunal in July allowing the employees to be named during the proceedings.
At the tribunal, the public will now only be excluded when a limited number of closed documents and evidence concerning employees not on the open list are heard.
Mr Bacchus claims that he faced discrimination after a new person moved into the post as head of strategic communications in March 2010. Mr Bacchus believes that his bosses ignored his advice, sidelined him, and reduced him to little more than a messenger.
He also claims that major projects he had been working on were taken from him. Mr Bacchus claims he felt singled out and patronised as the only ethnic minority employee in the communications department.
The tribunal dealing with Mr Bacchus's claims runs for nine days at the court in London starting from September 11.
A spokesman for GCHQ said the agency disputed many of the claims being made by Mr Bacchus and would be fighting the allegations being made by their former employee at the tribunal.
He added: "We are confident that Mr Bacchus's claims of racial discrimination and harassment are without foundation. We will be contesting them at the employment tribunal."
It will be the second time in recent months that the agency has faced questions in open court. Following the death of another employee, Gareth Williams, an inquest raised questions about the role of the listening post.
Coroner Fiona Wilcox criticised the 21-month investigation and said it was unlikely the riddle into his death "will ever be satisfactorily explained".