Chef sues House of Commons for £300k over ‘racist’ cartoon depicting him boiling in a vat of hot oil

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Chef sues House of Commons for £300k over ‘racist’ cartoon depicting him boiling in a vat of hot oil

  • Chef Kevin Connor is suing House of Commons for £300,000 in a racism claim 
  • Mr Connor, 53, was allegedly handed a cartoon of himself in a pan of boiling oil  
  • He said he felt humiliated by image including ‘Kevin’ on menu with jerk chicken

Mr Connor, 53, is from the Caribbean island of Anguilla and worked as a chef de partie in the Commons kitchens

A sacked chef is suing the House of Commons for £300,000 in a racism claim after he was allegedly handed a cartoon of himself in a pan of boiling oil.

Kevin Connor said he felt humiliated by the image, which included his name written on a menu featuring jerk chicken and a colleague about to hit him with a cooking utensil.

He also claims he was told he should become a beach seller of jerk chicken and that he worked ‘like a slave’.

Mr Connor, 53, is from the Caribbean island of Anguilla and worked as a chef de partie in the Commons kitchens.

He was fired in February and is claiming unfair dismissal, race discrimination, harassment and victimisation.

Mr Connor is seeking £300,000 compensation from the House of Commons Commission – which runs the cafeterias on the parliamentary estate – for lost earnings, pension and injured feelings.

In legal papers lodged at Central London Employment Tribunal, he said he worked in the kitchens cooking food for MPs from 2002 until 2014 without any problems.

But he claims his job became a living hell over the past few years with staff frequently falling out and having rows that sometimes turned violent. 

Tensions first surfaced when he reprimanded a colleague for cooking chicken in the same fryers as other dishes – something which could potentially trigger allergies among diners.

He said the worker was persuaded to complain about him and another colleague punched him in the face, which he reported to police.

Kevin Connor said he felt humiliated by the image, which included his name written on a menu featuring jerk chicken and a colleague about to hit him with a cooking utensil

Kevin Connor said he felt humiliated by the image, which included his name written on a menu featuring jerk chicken and a colleague about to hit him with a cooking utensil

But it was Mr Connor who was suspended for a year following the fracas. On his return he was allegedly branded a ‘snake’ by a fellow worker and told he had a ‘monkey on his back’. 

He said: ‘I suspect he referred to jungle creatures when referring to me due to my race.’

Mr Connor added: ‘He went on to warn me that ‘no-one here likes you’. It was harassing. He wanted me to know that no-one would support me and he could ensure that was the case. I kept my head down and got on with my work. My performance remained good at all times. It was very stressful.’

He claimed another colleague said: ‘Why don’t you go back to where you belong?’

Mr Connor also alleged he was told he worked ‘like a slave’ and that one worker threatened to punch him.

In 2019, he claims it was suggested he should go on the beach and sell jerk chicken, with the colleague adding: ‘You would do well.’

Mr Connor said: ‘Again, this was harassing and a racist and derogatory remark.’

In legal papers lodged at Central London Employment Tribunal, above, he said he worked in the kitchens cooking food for MPs from 2002 until 2014 without any problems. But he claims his job became a living hell over the past few years with staff frequently falling out and having rows that sometimes turned violent

In legal papers lodged at Central London Employment Tribunal, above, he said he worked in the kitchens cooking food for MPs from 2002 until 2014 without any problems. But he claims his job became a living hell over the past few years with staff frequently falling out and having rows that sometimes turned violent

He claims he was again disciplined when false complaints were made that he was intimidating colleagues. He said: ‘I was too afraid to raise the issue of the racism against me in the workplace although I did try to draw attention to the most overt and obvious case of the racist picture.

‘I also thought naively that if I told the truth about the events that they would obviously conclude that I had done nothing wrong.’

Mr Connor, from Slough, Berkshire, claims he was wrongly fired from his £23,000-a-year job for misconduct in February.

The commission is vigorously contesting Mr Connor’s legal action and said it ‘does not comment on staff matters’.

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