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Former Mayor denies anti-African claim

PUBLISHED: 13:35 08 May 2003 | UPDATED: 13:49 03 March 2010

A FORMER Mayor of Ipswich has been accused of racial discrimination while chairman of a group set up to support ethnic minorities.

Albert Grant, himself of West Indian origin, is strongly denying the claim levelled against him at an employment tribunal which began yesterday.

A FORMER Mayor of Ipswich has been accused of racial discrimination while chairman of a group set up to support ethnic minorities.

Albert Grant, himself of West Indian origin, is strongly denying the claim levelled against him at an employment tribunal which began yesterday.

Comfort Osunsami was informed in a telephone call from Mr Grant in February last year that she was being sacked.

The Black and Minority Ethnic Network, which has since changed its named to the Cambridge Ethnic Community Forum and is based in Cambridge, says the 47-year-old had her fixed term contract cut short because of her lack of co-operation and her attitude.

Ms Osunsami, of Tennyson Close, Royston, is asking the tribunal sitting at Bury St Edmunds to uphold her claim for racial discrimination against both Mr Grant and the Network.

The Home Office-funded organisation, which aims to promote racial equality, and Mr Grant are both contesting the claim.

Ms Osunsami told the tribunal that she believed that her African origins were behind the reason to dispense with her services at the office where she worked in Victoria Road, Cambridge.

She alleged that the decision to end her contract a month early had been taken by a group of four board members, including Mr Grant, who were all West Indians.

Ms Osunsami said her treatment contrasted with the way Mr Grant dealt with

another employee Margo Moore, a woman of West Indian origin who worked for eight months as co-ordinator of the group.

"I was told by lots of them that she never did the work and was hardly ever

in the office and yet she stayed in her job for eight months," she said.

"Mr Grant himself told me that she never did the work. The first question I

asked him was, 'Why didn't you sack her?' He didn't sack Margo because she

was one of his own.

"Here was I, an African coming in day in and day out and doing the work, and

I was sacked."

Ms Osunsami claimed she had problems with the group's West Indian treasurer Joyce Andrade who had shouted at her on the telephone and 'reduced her to tears'.

"In the office, I was respectful to all of them - but she was a constant

source of aggravation."

Solicitor Martin Bloom, representing the group, said Ms Osunsami's dismissal

had nothing to do with her ethnic background and was due to her performance at work.

He accused her of having an aggressive and disruptive attitude at work and

"ranting and raving" at her colleagues.

"The case is that they gave you a chance to work for four or five months,

but the situation became so intolerable that that they decided not to renew

your contract. They could not put up with your behaviour any more," he

said.

He said: "Ms Osunsami's contract was due to end in March last year anyway

because she was only taken on for a fixed period.

"But she was not up to the job and her contract came to an end.

The hearing continues today (thurs)


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