Mixed race soldier sues MoD for £100,000 amid claims colleagues put up "racist" posters at army base and nicknamed him Apu, High Court hears

Former soldier Mark De Kretser - Champion News
Former soldier Mark De Kretser - Champion News

A mixed race soldier is suing the MoD for £100,000 amid claims he was bullied after colleagues put up "racist" posters at an army base and nicknamed him Apu, the High Court has heard.

Mark De Kretser, 48, who has Sri Lankan heritage, says he was subjected to "grindingly repetitive" racist taunts.

He was compared to the diminutive James Bond bad guy, corner shop owner Apu from The Simpsons and Bill Cosby's Dr Huxtable character from The Cosby Show, he told a judge.

Racist posters were put up at the base, while he was also called "stupid" and assaulted, he says, before being medically discharged due to mental stresses in January 2017.

At the High Court in London, the former Colour Sergeant, of Wroxham, Norfolk, is claiming £100,000 for harassment and bullying from the MoD, which denies liability.

Mr De Kretser’s barrister, Christopher Hough, said: "This was a bunch of white men in their 40s who were pretending in their way that the Equality Act hadn't been passed and that tolerance of racism is still the same now as it was 20 or 30 years ago.

"By its defence to this claim, the MoD invites the court to turn the clock back to an earlier age, where banter was considered acceptable."

Sergeant Kevin McHenry - Credit: Champion News
Sergeant Kevin McHenry Credit: Champion News

His barrister said that between 2013 and 2015, Mr De Kretser was subjected to a campaign of bullying at Thetford, Norfolk.

It involved "humiliating, insulting and grindingly repetitive jokes, often based on his mixed race," said Mr Hough.

Some of the mockery occurred in cartoon posters which were pinned on a notice board in the base, he said.

Sgt Kevin McHenry, who admitted putting up the posters and who referred to Mr De Kretser as Dr Huxtable, considered he was his best friend.

The posters were "good-natured and formed part of an overall context of camaraderie and banter," while the Dr Huxtable reference came from Mr De Kretser first, said MoD barrister, Niazi Fetto.

"Mr De Kretser paints a picture of a group of men who singled him out for different, adverse treatment," said the barrister.

"The reality was the opposite: he was welcomed and included by the unit, within which a degree of banter and badinage was the norm."

He claimed: "He was, moreover, an initiator of such banter and badinage and actively engaged in name-calling and the use of salty language.

"He did not display sensitivity to such behaviour, but rather ease and comfort with it. On occasions, he took it too far."

Mr De Kretser was eventually medically discharged from the services in January 2017, having sustained psychiatric damage due to the bullying, his barrister claimed.

His claim for a payout includes claims for lost earnings and the loss of his military pension.

The case continues.

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