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Sacked diplomat blames anti-German British bias

Kristen Allen · 3 Mar 2011, 08:40

Published: 03 Mar 2011 08:40 GMT+01:00

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Andreas Westerwinter said that during his time as the UK's deputy permanent delegate to UNESCO – the UN's cultural, educational and scientific arm – he was the target of racial slurs and unfair treatment, then finally singled out for a cost-cutting redundancy ahead of British colleagues.

“Racial slurs – such as being called a Nazi – were ignored or tolerated in the office, and grievance proceedings were not handled properly,” the Münster native told The Local this week.

“Being a German who has lived abroad for about 20 years, it’s something I hear from time to time, but it’s a bit more shocking in a diplomatic setting.”

Hired at the international development agency on a French contract by the British embassy in 2006, the 40-year-old said he found himself locked out of his office on a Monday morning in January 2009 after being fired by letter the previous Friday.

“There had been reviews conducted by the Foreign Office that found it was incorrect to call me a Nazi, saying it was offensive, especially since I’m German,” he told The Local. “They sent someone from London in December 2008 ... and recommended diversity training. But this never took place and I was locked out of the office six months later.”

While his sacking was officially called a response to orders to reign in the budget, Westerwinter said it came amid tensions arising from his complaints about discrimination and his whistleblowing over wasteful spending in the office.

While he earned a yearly salary of £40,000 (€47,132), his boss allegedly received an expense package of some £200,000 for a luxury apartment and expensive school fees for his children.

Two other employees also on local contracts, but who were British nationals, were spared in the cuts, he said. His former employee also blacklisted him to another potential employer, while internal documents now show how his employers were part of an “Old Boy’s network” they used to protect each other from his complaints, he alleged.

Westerwinter has taken his case to both the British and French courts. Last week the Central London Employment Tribunal heard Westerwinter’s complaints, granting him an eight-day hearing set for late July, and French proceedings are scheduled for June.

If the London court rules in his favour, Westerwinter said he believes it could create the possibility for tens of thousands of locally employed British government employees around the world to make similar cases.

“In a new European reality, there is much higher labour migration at an elevated professional level, with people who might also be exposed to this more nuanced type of racism,” he said.

Story continues below…

Westerwinter, who is representing himself in court, acknowledges that he does not fit the “normal profile” of someone who would file for a race discrimination case.

While he may not be the visible minority that lawmakers had in mind when they wrote anti-discrimination laws in the 1970s, with his German accent he is an “audible minority,” he said.

“That remains something that some people may think is improper - for me to sit in the UNESCO body behind the UK nameplate and speak on behalf of the British government,” he said. “It is far more subtle indeed, but unfortunately that doesn’t make any difference to the day to day reality when you’re subject to it.”

Meanwhile UK newspaper The Daily Telegraph reported last week that the expenses package for the current post of ambassador to UNESCO has been reduced, but that the DfID has refused to comment on the ongoing case.

Kristen Allen (kristen.allen@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

09:13 March 3, 2011 by catjones
What is this, stream-of-consciousness reporting? You need a Venn diagram just to follow the story.
09:22 March 3, 2011 by So36
Perhaps you do. But then again you probably need a roadmap to find your own bathroom.
09:30 March 3, 2011 by The-ex-pat
His boss earned more than him, what a shocking thing to discovery......

This was in the UK papers weeks ago. He in on a compensation trip. The UK is worse than the US or Germany for people suing. The main reason used is it is either against someone's human rights or something was un-PC and they where offended. This guy is just milking the system.
11:46 March 3, 2011 by CaSimone
Had no problem following the story.

The mention of bosses earnings are to counter reflect the "supposed" cost cuts they were making to justify his employment release.

As for milking the system... what do you know the man personally?

Do you think it reasonable to pardon the uncomfortable and emotionally torment effects of working in a verbally abusive and hostile atmosphere?

Yes, we do live in a cruel world, but efforts to correct this need not be tossed in exchange for hopelessness.

If he truly was the target of office ridicule for being German, then this case is extremely valid and needs to be heard not just for him but for all those in his shoes dealing with such ignorance.

There are two possible realities to this story, one he was a jerk, or his work environment was improper, regardless of either his ethnicity never should have been on the table as a negative factor.

Point blank, there are decent and rotten people in every corner of the world, their nationality has nothing to do with it.
12:34 March 3, 2011 by catjones
@So36...nope, just feeding your superiority complex. Take a placebo and call me in the morning.
13:57 March 3, 2011 by The-ex-pat
As for milking the system... what do you know the man personally? .......

No, but I have read a whole load more about this than just a story here at the local. Google (or what ever you use) the UK press about this story.

Do you think it reasonable to pardon the uncomfortable and emotionally torment effects of working in a verbally abusive and hostile atmosphere? .......

No I don't, but as the UK government is only slightly less politically correct than Canada, excuse me if I am more than slightly sceptical about this story than you. You can't even fart in a government office without receiving a written warning, so to say that Nazi comments went unchecked, sorry more chance of the UK leaving the EU.
13:59 March 3, 2011 by storky
Sorry, my experience: Brits are very easily using the "Nazi" word. Just read the "Sun". It's time to come to an end on this sh*t! Regardless if this guy is trying to milk the system or not. Maybe this will also stop the sun bed/towel reservation fights around the mediterranean. ;O)
23:27 March 3, 2011 by polecat
Bigoted hypocrites who call all Germans Nazis would themselves have become Nazis had they grown up in 1920s Germany.
16:52 March 4, 2011 by Redwing
I agree with storkey. Some British people are only too happy to call Germans Nazis, but they are very touchy when they are portrayed in a negative light in US films. Even my grandchildren, who are only one quarter German, are frequently referred to as Nazis, usually by the uneducated offspring of uneducated parents.
17:39 March 4, 2011 by willowsdad
It's taboo in the US to slur pretty much any ethnic group....

Except one. That's right. Comments are made about Germans and German-Americans (usually in the "Nazi" vein) that wouldn't be tolerated for any other group.
08:22 March 5, 2011 by Javarose
Unfortunately, I think that this man's claims have an uncomfortable ring of truth about them. Most Britons will call Germans Nazis at the drop of a hat.
15:10 March 5, 2011 by rickingermany
I am British and I would not call a German a Nazi at anytime. As an expat I hope this man wins his case and ends up with appropriate compensation. The British, sadly, still think they can do what they want yet, as I know, the majority are bigoted, arrogant and ignorant!
17:43 March 5, 2011 by NowSwimBack
By now everyone should know that the British government hates everyone except middle-easterners.
20:52 March 5, 2011 by KenVdM
The Brits are very racist but usually careful as not to use racial words such as Nazi. Growing up in England I was commonly called foreign although I'm half British and white. The German kid at school got called nearly daily a Nazi, and the teachers tolerated and even encouraged it. Less we not forget who developed the concentration camp and cleansed ethic people across the world, the British.
21:35 March 5, 2011 by polecat
Since Germans are called Nazis why aren't Italians or Spaniards called Fascists? (Not that I think they should be called that).
23:32 March 5, 2011 by silvertop
I'm only 50% German, and I'm now retired. But all my life in the UK I've had the Nazi tag thrown at me. Maybe being tall blond and blueeyed made me easier to spot. There is a great tendency in the UK to put other races down, particularly when they are more successful than we are, just to feel superior. Though in reality as a nation we are rapidly going downhill. To compound the error of being born half German, I married a lady from the far east, and we had two kids. Though they are both now adult, the racial abuse they both went through at school and Uni was extremely unpleasant. Teachers and staff just did not want to know. I think simply they have no way to deal with it, so they'd rather ignore it and hope it goes away. If anything the UK is likely to get worse. Paradoxically the UK has always been very tolerant of foreigners, but I think this tolerance is being eroded as we see more better trained and qualified immmigrants(incl from EU)taking jobs that Brits would regard as theirs. The key is much better education,and to a higher level,not just on PC'ism
20:19 March 7, 2011 by Al uk
This is slander against Brits. I am going to sue all of the above!
00:13 March 8, 2011 by gudrun Kyjak-Lane
Having read your article about Mr Westerwinter and I recognize myself on all counts.I have lived and worked in UK for the last 30 Years, I am married to an English man for 27 years and we have a daughter who studies at Oxford University.

I have been subjected on countless occasions to racism and discrimination often in a subtle way,almost not detectable to british bystanders,and often quite openly with a so called sense of humour which I am refered to as not having.Our daughter has been called a Nazi in

school , came home in tears and the teachers had "NOT heard" such thing.I am still called a foreigner after 30 yrs of paying my taxes. I so sympathise with Mr Westerwinter and wish him success in this mamouth task of proving his point.
14:02 March 14, 2011 by Sripal Jain
Mr Westerwinter, you have to be proud even they called you Nazi....British are cunning and they create fight between brothers and ruled the countries, this is how they ruled the world..they are not genuine fighters, i call them backstabbers, .....Germany is the best in Engineering and medical...
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