Army Officer Referred To 'Coloured' People, Tribunal Told

Hani Gue and Nkulueko Zulu have taken the Ministry of Defence to a tribunal alleging they suffered racial discrimination and harassment.

Hani Gue outside a tribunal in London earlier this month (Picture: PA).

A British Army officer described black people as "coloured" and questioned whether "n*****" is a racist word, a tribunal has heard.

Lieutenant Colonel Geoff Hargreaves allegedly made the comments in an interview with former paratrooper Hani Gue in January 2018 after he complained about hearing racist language on an Army deployment in Kenya.

On the 2017 trip, during an exercise with British Army and Kenyan troops, one colleague of Mr Gue's allegedly said "look at these idiots running, f****** n****** don't have a clue".

Lt Col Hargreaves used the subsequent interview to ask Mr Gue why the use of the word n***** was an issue, according to Christopher Milsom, who is representing the claimants at the tribunal.

In the interview, the lieutenant colonel is alleged to have said: 

"If the coloured guys can do it why can't a Caucasian?"

Lt Col Hargreaves insisted to the tribunal that his use of the word coloured was appropriate in the context and he did not think black was a better description.

He said: "You can no longer call a blackboard a blackboard, you have to call it a chalkboard because it is deemed offensive."

Language about race is "a bit of a minefield", he added, noting the word n***** is used in films.

Lance Corporal Nkululeko Zulu leaving a tribunal in central London 040719 Credit PA Images
Mr Gue and fellow former paratrooper Nkulueko Zulu (pictured above) have taken the Ministry of Defence to a tribunal alleging they suffered racial discrimination and harassment, and the Army did not take reasonable steps to prevent it (Picture: PA).

The tribunal has already heard claims from Mr Gue about soldiers decorating their barracks with Nazi flags and pictures of Adolf Hitler.

Captain Kurt Perzylo, who was the Regimental Sergeant for the 3rd Batallion, Parachute Regiment at the time of the Kenya trip, told the tribunal on Monday that he did not think it had a racism problem.

In a witness statement, he said: "Admittedly BAME soldiers make up only a small percentage of the battalion but nonetheless - as far as I am aware - the battalion does not suffer from issues of racism."