Navy officer claims race discrimination over ‘Robert Mugabe’ taunts

A black Royal Navy officer is claiming he suffered racial discrimination after being nicknamed “Robert Mugabe”, an employment tribunal heard yesterday.

Andrew Antrobus, 48, told the court he was introduced as “Andy aka Robert Mugabe” at important meetings and once came into work to find a poster saying “Vote Mugabe” on the wall above his desk, with notes stating “Mugabe’s desk” or “Secret Police”.

He is claiming racial discrimination against two former colleagues and the Ministry of Defence (MoD), after it allegedly failed to act on complaints.

But the Royal Navy suggested at the tribunal that Antrobus used the dictator’s nickname against himself in the first place to refer to his strict management style. Antrobus had also been investigated for making calls on his office phone to his girlfriend, the court heard. He only made the racial discrimination complaint when he learned he could be fired, according to the MoD, and the two staff involved, chief petty officer John Pinsent and warrant officer Robert Ewen.

Antrobus said yesterday his colleagues told him he was a “big guy” and should “get over” the racist taunts.

He added: “When I found the poster of Mugabe above my desk and a sign on it, I just screwed them up and threw them away and got on with my job because I was very busy. I told Mr Pinsent it was not funny and he came back with something about not being so sensitive.”

The MoD, Pinsent and Ewen deny the allegations. The tribunal at Exeter continues. The MoD denied to comment before the hearing’s conclusion.

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