Simon Case ‘allowed unrelenting and systemic racism to run rampant’ in Cabinet Office

Simon Case was accused of showing a "lack of support" and "cold-shouldering" allegations of racism
Simon Case was accused of showing a "lack of support" and "cold-shouldering" allegations of racism - Tayfun Salci/Shutterstock

Simon Case has been accused by a former civil servant of allowing “unrelenting and systemic” racism to run rampant in the Cabinet Office.

Rowaa Ahmar, a former senior Treasury official who is of Egyptian and French heritage, attempted to sue Mr Case and other senior officials at an employment tribunal over sex and racial discrimination, lodging eight grievances and singling out 27 individuals.

However, Ms Ahmar withdrew her claims on Monday, almost two years after lodging the first of her two claims in June 2022.

The Telegraph can reveal the details of her case for the first time after overturning reporting restrictions imposed by the court.

Tribunal documents show she accused Mr Case, the Cabinet Secretary, of showing a “lack of support” and “cold-shouldering” her allegations of racism and harassment after she resigned.

Ms Ahmar had been seconded to the Cabinet Office in June 2021 to help lead Britain’s preparations for the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow.

She claimed she was the only black, asian and minority ethnic (BAME) official of her seniority in the Cabinet Office and accused her manager of singling her out for “hostile treatment” because of her race.

“She criticised my communication skills and referred to English being my third language.

“I was performing well but she still singled me out for hostile treatment.

“She clearly disliked me for some reason (others noticed it), wished and sought to ignore or humiliate men, and could not contain her hostility towards me.”

“She did not conduct herself in that hostile manner towards her white staff”.


Ms Ahmar also alleged Cop26 staff wasted taxpayers’ money by organising needless trips to the Highlands.

Ms Ahmar claimed she was ordered to leave the summit on Nov 6 2021 after being “harassed, discriminated against, victimised”, claiming other white staff were not subject to the same treatment.

After taking up a senior role in an illegal migration task force on Jan 4 2022, she accused civil servants working on stopping illegal boat crossings of being “onboard” for “racist ultra-hostility”.

She claimed that civil service directors viewed the “ultra-hostile environment” towards migrants as “practical, necessary and gratifying”.

Mr Case and two other named officials – Alex Chisholm, the permanent secretary in the Cabinet Office, and Sarah Harrison, the chief operating officer in the Cabinet Office – were all accused of being “untrustworthy” over how they dealt with her complaints.

The tribunal documents show Mr Case and the two other officials argued they played only “minor roles”.

The Cabinet Office said she submitted eight grievances over eight months and branded the claims against Mr Case “preposterous.”

The claimant raised 82 issues in naming at least 27 people in the claim, it added.

They include all her managers, and human resources, as well as  individuals from other business areas who considered her grievances or addressed her subject access requests, the department said, as well as independent investigators from a third-party commercial organisation which specialises in carrying out workplace investigations.

The department said the Cabinet Secretary “never met” the claimant but was on one Zoom call he was on.

She was asked to leave the meeting because she lacked permission to join remotely, it added.

Ms Ahmar resigned on July 21 2022. In documents submitted to the central London employment tribunal she wrote: “At the end of the day, when there are no good or trustworthy people left at the top (none of Mr Case, Chisholm, or Ms Harrison are trustworthy and all broke the rules to retaliate against me or allow others to do so), there is no method or way to successfully challenge such unlawful conduct.

“This was the position when I resigned and one important factor in my resignation. The racism within the Cabinet Office appeared to be unrelenting and systemic.”

Mr Case, who works closely with Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, stepped back from his Cabinet Secretary duties in October because of a medical matter, before returning to work in January.

Before being appointed Cabinet Secretary in 2020 by Boris Johnson, then prime minister, Mr Case served as private secretary to the then Prince of Wales.

A Cabinet Office spokesman said: “These allegations are completely unfounded and the Cabinet Office has always firmly denied all of the claims in this case. We were prepared to robustly defend them in court.

“The claimant has withdrawn all of these claims and we have agreed to that. No payment has been made, including in relation to the legal costs incurred.”