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Outrage after Tory councillor tells Irish joke during race discrimination hearing


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Outrage after Tory councillor tells Irish joke during race discrimination hearing


By Daily Mail Reporter

Last updated at 5:50 PM on 02nd June 2008


article-1023654-01757D8F00000578-507_233x423.jpg Blunder: Tory councillor Ken Bamber will face a watchdog after making an Irish joke


A Tory councillor faces being struck off for telling an Irish joke...halfway through a race discrimination hearing.

Blundering Ken Bamber, 77, told the tale about two "Paddies" in front of a union boss whose parents come from Ireland.

Brian Kelly, who was representing an employee at Medway Council in Kent, said he was deeply offended by the joke.


He walked out of the hearing in December after the Tory councillor began: "A man walks into a Dublin bar and sees a friend sitting with an empty glass. 'Paddy - can I buy you another?', he asks.


"Paddy looks up and says: 'Now what would I be wanting with another empty glass?'"


Since the incident, Mr Bamber, a former carpet and upholstery businessman, has stepped down from his role as the chairman of dismissal appeals hearings.

Mr Kelly, 53, is now taking the councillor to a private employment tribunal, in which he could be removed from his post.

Mr Bamber, from Hoo near Rochester, will also face a watchdog in June to see whether he breached acceptable codes of conduct for government officials.

"I couldn't believe my ears - we were in the midst of a racial discrimination hearing," said Mr Kelly.


"If there's ever a more inappropriate time to start telling racist jokes that would have been it.

"This man was directly responsible for deciding whether the employee in question had a racial discrimination claim and he was telling racist jokes himself.

"I am proud of my Irish heritage and family and I felt deeply offended."

The father-of-four, who spent his childhood in south-west Ireland, claimed other councillors at the hearing tried to tell the Mr Bamber his remarks were offensive.

"They said to him 'be careful what you're saying' but he didn't seem to understand.

"But what he was effectively saying was that it was okay for people to be employed at the council and to make racist remarks," said the union boss.


The hearing, which was adjourned after the offended union boss made his exit, was to decide if a black social worker had been unfairly dismissed from his post.

He has claimed he was subjected to racism and his case is now pending.

Medway Council made a £16,000 out of court settlement with a black female employee who claimed race discrimination last year.


The employee, who has not been named, worked for the housing department and claimed she was subjected to racial abuse.

Mr Kelly added: "I want this man to be held accountable for what he said. It should not be acceptable for anyone to behave in this manner.

"If a judge made these kind of remarks at a criminal trial - or any public hearing - there would be an outcry and he would be dis-barred."

Speaking from his home today Bamber said: "I am before the Standards Board on June 19 and I'm not prepared to discuss the case or say anything that may prejudice its outcome.

"I don't want to give anyone any ammunition against me."


Medway Council was rocked by scandal in March when Tory councillor John Ward was forced to quit after saying parents on benefits should be sterilised.

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