Waltham Forest Echo

Waltham Forest Echo

Leyton support service director joked African child 'probably eats [rats] back home'

The director of Supporting Young Futures was responding to a rodent the child killed in his accommodation

Hero for Leyton support service director joked African child 'probably eats [rats] back home'
Dead mouse (credit: Pixabay)

The director of a Leyton-based outreach service for vulnerable young people joked that an African child "probably eats [rats] back home".The director of a Leyton-based outreach service for vulnerable young people joked that an African child "probably eats [rats] back home".

Peter Brown, 50, made the comment to a junior colleague after being sent a photo of a rodent the child killed with a broom in their accommodation.Peter Brown, 50, made the comment to a junior colleague after being sent a photo of a rodent the child killed with a broom in their accommodation.

His company, Supporting Young Futures, provides "outreach support" for councils to young people, including asylum seekers.His company, Supporting Young Futures, provides "outreach support" for councils to young people, including asylum seekers.

In March, the junior colleague involved, identified only as M Acheampong, took the company to an employment tribunal, alleging racial discrimination.In March, the junior colleague involved, identified only as M Acheampong, took the company to an employment tribunal, alleging racial discrimination.

In his ruling, published in May, Judge Andrew Allen QC wrote: “In mid-February 2020, the claimant was sent some photographs of a mouse that a young resident of African origin had killed with a broom.In his ruling, published in May, Judge Andrew Allen QC wrote: “In mid-February 2020, the claimant was sent some photographs of a mouse that a young resident of African origin had killed with a broom.

“The claimant forwarded the photographs to Mr Brown who responded: ‘He probably eats them back home’.“The claimant forwarded the photographs to Mr Brown who responded: ‘He probably eats them back home’.

"Mr Brown accepted that he had made the comment and stated that it was not related to any particular nationality but meant to be a joke.”"Mr Brown accepted that he had made the comment and stated that it was not related to any particular nationality but meant to be a joke.”

The judge added that Acheampong replied to the joke with a laughing emoji but accepted that he was texting a senior staff member and had been privately offended.The judge added that Acheampong replied to the joke with a laughing emoji but accepted that he was texting a senior staff member and had been privately offended.

During the hearing, Brown admitted he did make the joke and the judge found this counted as harassment related to race but ruled that too much time had passed since the incident.During the hearing, Brown admitted he did make the joke and the judge found this counted as harassment related to race but ruled that too much time had passed since the incident.

Dispute resolution service ACAS advises that an employment claim must be made within “three months less one day” from the date of the incident complained about.Dispute resolution service ACAS advises that an employment claim must be made within “three months less one day” from the date of the incident complained about.

Company owner Peter Brown told the tribunal he has “about 36” employees and viewed Acheampong as someone who created a “disruptive atmosphere”.Company owner Peter Brown told the tribunal he has “about 36” employees and viewed Acheampong as someone who created a “disruptive atmosphere”.

The judge accepted Brown’s description, which he described as “detailed and came across as his truthful assessment”.The judge accepted Brown’s description, which he described as “detailed and came across as his truthful assessment”.

He noted in detail the manager's efforts to resolve the dispute through formal mediation, which were rejected by Acheampong.He noted in detail the manager's efforts to resolve the dispute through formal mediation, which were rejected by Acheampong.

Acheampong’s claims of race discrimination, harassment and victimisation were dismissed by the judge following the three day hearing.Acheampong’s claims of race discrimination, harassment and victimisation were dismissed by the judge following the three day hearing.