BA apologises to black diplomat

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The Independent Online
BRITISH AIRWAYS has apologised to a British black diplomat for the way he was treated at Gatwick to fly club class to his first overseas posting.

Robert Reid produced his diplomatic passport - a burgundy one similar to the ordinary citizen's but with the word "diplomatic" on the cover - but BA staff were not satisfied.

Staff refused to allow Mr Reid and his family to board until they had received further proof of who he was and the Foreign Office in London had vouched for his status.

Mr Reid was beginning a three-year secondment to the Foreign Office from the Home Office, where he was working in the immigration service. The incident led to internal inquiries at the Foreign Office and British Airways. Last night both "strongly refuted" any allegation that Mr Reid was treated in that way because he was black or that there was any racial motivation. But one of Mr Reid's former Home Office colleagues reportedly said last night that the check-in woman had a psychological block with the idea that a black man could have a diplomatic passport.

A BA spokeswoman said it was the first time its check-desk agent had seen the newer style diplomatic passport - which was introduced in 1995 - and she followed "stringent procedures as she was trained to do."

t White members of an amateur operatic society have been told they cannot wear face paint to play black slaves in the classic musical, Showboat. The Warwickshire-based Studley Operatic Society, whose 45 members are all white, may be forced to abandon its millennium production after a council ruled the "blacking up" was inappropriate and could offend.