A TOP doctor is fighting his dismissal from his job over allegedly racist remarks.

Peter Hale was sacked as a consultant from the Royal Sussex University Hospital in January last year following comments at the end of a staff meeting.

He denies the comments were racist and is bringing his own claim against Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals Trust (BSUH) for unfair dismissal and discrimination.

Mr Hale was found to have no case to answer over 13 further allegations from the four doctors who complained about the remarks, his case at the South London Employment Tribunal heard on Tuesday.

Representing Mr Hale, Daniel Matovu said his client made only one reference to the doctors’ race - when he referred to “sub-continent elements”. Three of the doctors are from India and one is from Pakistan.

The tribunal heard the full comment, made in December 2013, was: "These sub-continent elements, what you end up with is long-term resentments and grievances and all sorts of stuff.”

Abayomi Alemoru, from Vista employment services, who investigated the four doctors’ complaints for BSUH, told the tribunal on Tuesday that he took the “sub-continent” comment in the context of the wider conversation.

He said Mr Hale had earlier referred to Australians as “straightforward" and "truthful" while talking to a member of staff from that country.

He added: “We have got this underlying theme of characters who are not so good, who are not so truthful.

"And the question is, is there anything in the evidence that then reveals, who are they?

"There is no line that directly says subcontinent people and Australians are being compared; it is apparent, in my view, from the way that passage flows."

Mr Matovu said there was nothing to indicate Mr Hale was making a comparison.

Mr Alemoru said Mr Hale had told him the comment referred to the obstacles faced by workers from outside the European Union coming to work in the NHS.

He said he also believed that a comment by Mr Hale about a member of staff flying to Nigeria, during a discussion about shift swaps, also suggested a negative comparison based on race.

Among the doctors' 13 other allegations were that Mr Hale de-skilled them and kept them on short-term contracts, all of which were dismissed by Mr Alemoru during his investigation.

The case continues.


PETER Hale’s claim of unfair dismissal comes against a background of increasingly fractured relations between the NHS trust leadership and members of the Black and Minority Ethnic Network at the Royal Sussex County Hospital.

The crisis further escalated at the end of 2015 after four doctors claiming racial discrimination had their case thrown out at an industrial tribunal after it sensationally emerged they had secretly taped a meeting of the trust’s lawyers.

Doctors Khawaja Zia, Ved Prakash, Vivek Kaul and Christi Swaminathan, claimed they had been under paid and under promoted due to their race, over years of working for the trust.

The NHS trust denied the claims and a judge struck out their case after finding they had secretly recorded a private meeting in May during which the trust was given legal advice about their case.

Now after being sacked for gross misconduct, Peter Hale is bringing his own claim against his former employer for unfair dismissal.

On Tuesday, the independent investigator Abayomi Alemoru, who first said Mr Hale had a case to answer about the remarks, defended his interpretation.

Early on he agreed with Mr Hale’s lawyer Victor Matovu that the “subcontinent elements” remark Mr Hale made was key.

“If Peter Hale had not referred to the four doctors as ‘these subcontinent elements,’ then I do not think that I would have found there was evidence of racial discrimination,” he said.

Mr Alemoru said the remarks needed to be looked at in the context of Mr Hale having introduced race into the conversation while talking with an Australian member of staff.

Mr Alemoru said: “It seems on the face of it as though [in Hale’s comment] there are some people who are to be compared to Australians who are good people and tell the truth. And then the question as the conversation continues is, is there any indication as to who these people are?

“The point I am making is that when you continue the conversation, the other people that Mr Hale may have in mind, it might be these subcontinent elements.”

Last year the four doctors who complained about that remark – Khawaja Zia, Ved Prakash, Vivek Kaul and Christi Swaminathan – had their claim for racial discrimination against Brighton and Sussex University NHS hospitals trust thrown out of court.

The tribunal took the drastic action after finding the doctors secretly recorded a privileged meeting about the case then tried to use it to force the trust’s chief executive into settling.

The tribunal heard Mr Hale had also said one needed “a chill pill” and “a good slap”, which also contributed to his dismissal. Mr Matovu stressed this was “metaphorical language”.

It also heard the four doctors took offence to Mr Hale using the phrase “three-line whip” to ask them to come to a meeting.

Mr Alemoru said he did not think the phrase was racist but had steered clear of looking into whether it was reasonable for the doctors to take offence at it. He said: “The question I was being asked to determine is whether or not the reference to the three line formed a case for race discrimination and for the reasons I hopefully clearly set out I did not think so."

The tribunal heard Mr Hale was deeply upset by alleged remarks from the doctors saying he treated them like “slave labour” and they were “just like slaves” to him.

Mr Matovu said Mr Alemoru had not questioned the four or other people at the meeting about those remarks in the same way he had investigated Mr Hale. Mr Alemoru said the doctors had given their account during the investigation into Mr Hale. The case continues.