27 August 2023

Racist language not tolerated in Government documents, minister says

27 August 2023

Government departments have been warned by a Cabinet minister that racist language will not be tolerated after slurs were reportedly discovered in official documents.

The Independent previously reported that words of a racist nature featured in Department for Work and Pension guidance for doctors assessing disability benefit claims, immigration tribunal decisions, as well as in the comment sections of the Foreign Office and the Government’s websites.

In a letter to a Labour MP who had demanded a review into the matter, Cabinet Office minister Jeremy Quin said: “We do not tolerate racist, homophobic, sexist or any similarly unacceptable language in any form, including in government documents or on our web pages.”

He also wrote: “Additionally, I would like to assure you that the Cabinet Office will be writing to permanent secretary colleagues to remind them of this guidance and asking them to ensure that it is easily accessible to all employees within their department and associated organisations.”

A Cabinet Office spokesperson said on Sunday: “As the letter references – we do not tolerate racist, homophobic, sexist or any similarly unacceptable language in any form.

“Documents referenced in recent media coverage relate to historic publications that have since been removed, and all departments have been reminded of the rules and guidance when writing about matters of race and ethnicity.”

Labour MP Kim Johnson, who branded the use of racist words in Government documents “utterly outrageous”, repeated her call for a full probe, according to the Independent.

“It would send a far stronger message for the Government to launch a review into how this happened in the first place,” she told the news website.

“These papers were not just written by people who thought this terminology was appropriate, but it will have been scrutinised, signed off at multiple levels and then used by professionals in Government and beyond.

“It is frankly astounding that this has taken so long to surface. With trust of black communities in the Government at an all-time low, action is needed to establish the full extent of this issue and to stamp it out for good.”

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