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[Politics] Simon Case: Top civil servant among officials named in discrimination claim


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The country's most senior civil servant Simon Case is among four officials named by a former Treasury employee in a discrimination claim.

Rowaa Ahmar has lodged two claims with an employment tribunal, saying she was subject to "direct discrimination and harassment on the grounds of her sex and race" as well as "victimisation".

Mr Case and two other officials had argued they played only "minor roles".

The tribunal judge agreed they were not central figures in the claim.

Tony McGrade said "the allegations against them indicated that they performed peripheral roles in the events giving rise to these claims", and those "involve omissions rather than actions carried out by them".

The existence of the case came to light after Cabinet Secretary Mr Case and two of the other named officials - Alex Chisolm, the permanent secretary in the Cabinet Office, and Sarah Harrison, the chief operating officer in the Cabinet Office - failed in an attempt to have their names removed from the proceedings.

The officials had argued they had played only "minor roles in the issues giving rise to these claims".

Mr Case had submitted that his only connection to the issue was after Ms Ahmar had left her job at the Treasury and "at no point are there substantive allegations of discrimination against him".

Both Mr Chisolm and Ms Harrison said they were not named as perpetrators of discrimination.

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However, in his interim ruling published on Monday, Judge McGrade declined to remove their names, saying this could complicate Ms Ahmar's attempts to obtain redress depending on the outcome of the case.

Ms Ahmar, who resigned from her role at the Treasury, lodged two claims with the tribunal in June and November 2022 after attempts at conciliation failed. The claims identify the Cabinet Office and four officials, including three senior civil servants.

Ms Ahmar had argued that "there are factual issues that have to be determined by the tribunal as to how far these individuals played a part".

She claimed she resigned because of what she believed to be "the failures of all three respondents, which included breaking the rules".

Before she resigned Ms Ahmar was nominated for an award in 2020 for being "passionate about promoting diversity and inclusion" at the Treasury.

The civil service website said she had "made a huge contribution... all of it voluntary and done on top of her demanding day job".

It listed among her achievements establishing a parents network at the start of lockdown, as well as working on mental health awareness and race, and mentoring a colleague with a disability, saying she "leads by example in constructively helping people to develop more inclusive behaviour".

The full employment tribunal hearing is not expected to happen before next year.

A Cabinet Office spokesperson said "we do not tolerate bullying, harassment or discrimination and any complaints are taken extremely seriously".

"There are clear procedures in place to ensure that complaints are handled with sensitivity and fairness," the spokesperson said, adding that "we are defending these claims and cannot comment further on an ongoing employment tribunal".

A former private secretary to Prince William who has worked in the civil service for more than 15 years, Mr Case was appointed cabinet secretary - the prime minister's most senior policy adviser - and head of the civil service in September 2020.

 

Link: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-65302232

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