Brokers ‘swapped Kim Jong Il pictures’ during Asian client call, court hears

Kishore Kansal, 33, is seeking £1.5m in damages from his former employer Tullet Prebon

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The Independent Online

A British Asian City worker suing one of the UK’s biggest brokers for alleged racial discrimination and harassment helped create an atmosphere where racially offensive jokes went unpunished, a court heard today.

Kishore Kansal, 33, is seeking £1.5m in damages from his former employer Tullett Prebon where he worked as a £130,000-a-year broker. The company, together with six of Mr Kansal’s former colleagues, all deny the claim.

Giving evidence for the first time at his employment tribunal, Mr Kansal admitted emailing colleagues a picture of the puppet depicting former North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il from satirical movie Team America: World Police during a conference call last year with a US client of south east Asian heritage.

He said the client had a “very funny accent” that reminded him of the character and was “convinced” others would think the same.

Mr Kansal had to explain the plot of the film, from the creators of South Park, to a bewildered panel of judges at the Central London Employment Tribunal.

In his 134-page witness statement referred to in court Mr Kansal said: “The more I listened the more the caller on the other side sounded like the maniacal dictator that had been portrayed in the film.”

Mr Kansal claimed his boss Neil Campbell congratulated him on the content, and claimed fellow broker Ghatan Vahidy, who had also been on the call, praised him for the “comedy gold”.

Mr Kansal said in his statement: “There were giggles around the office as the picture was forwarded round. Everyone in the room had seemed to find the picture amusing. It was not a racist slur, nor was there any feedback that it was perceived as such.”

As well as Tullett Prebon, a FTSE 250 interdealer broker, six individual former colleagues have been named as respondents in Mr Kansal’s claim.

Barrister Jane Russell, representing the respondents, accused Mr Kansal of helping to create an environment he subsequently claimed he was a victim of. Ms Russell asked: “How can you be the victim of [a hostile environment] that you created?"

She continued: “To the extent you are seeking compensation for this environment – that means you are being rewarded, at least in part, for your own wrongdoing isn’t it?”

Mr Kansal disagreed and claimed he had been the victim of racial slurs and harassment “from day one” after joining the London-based firm in July 2012. He said Mr Campbell’s “racist comments were regular and steady during my first year at Tullett Prebon” and that he had “favourite terms such as ‘terrorist’ and ‘brown boys’” for British Asian staff. He also claims Mr Campbell referred to Mr Vahidy’s new-born baby as “little dog”. Ms Russell said no evidence existed to prove any of his accusations.

Mr Kansal told the court racially offensive terms were commonplace in the office among staff on his Alternatives Desk. One colleague, Maulik Patel, allegedly sent Mr Kansal a text message referring to a large institutional investor from Saudi Arabia as “rag heads”, the court heard.

Ms Russell accused Mr Kansal of “an ipso facto justification for creating a hostile environment” that he subsequently complained about after leaving the company in January 2014.

The hearing continues.