A racist slur has been featured on the government’s official website for eight years. The Independent can reveal.
The gov.uk website’s use of the word ‘N*****d’ to describe black people is likely to exacerbate the growing dispute.
After that newspaper revealed it was included in both a Met Office report and guidelines for assessing benefit claims, Rishi Sunak’s official spokesman condemned the word as “inappropriate and offensive”.
Downing Street added it was “confident” the word did not appear in any other document – but it has been prominently displayed in the comments section of the government’s website since 2015.
The word was removed after highlighting its presence The IndependentThis raises questions about the way the government scans its website for offensive terms.
As anger mounts over the use of the insult, cross-party MPs renewed calls for a government-wide review of official documents in all government departments.
Caroline Lucas, the Green Party MP for Brighton, tabled a parliamentary question to Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State in the Cabinet, on Thursday, calling for an opinion and an examination of official documents to ensure that offensive or biased terms are not used.
The question reads: “Referring to the recently withdrawn DWP guidance on social security assessments, which contains racist terminology, please ask the SoS Cabinet Office whether it will require all government departments to examine the documents for which they are responsible to ensure.” that no other government documents contain a) racist and b) other biased terms; and whether he will make a statement.”
The last slur was on the gov.uk website since 2015. She was in one Comment under a blog entitled “Equality in Public Service: Talking About Race”.
The third comment below the article read: “Talking about race? The idea of race is that humanity is divided into several different groups that we call racial groups: N*****d (black), Caucasian (white) and some others. It seems we both want to talk about race and not about it.”
There was also a request to “link to this comment”.
A Cabinet Office spokesman said: “We do not condone racist, homophobic, sexist or similarly unacceptable language on our pages and this comment has been removed.”
A Labor spokesman said The Independent: “It is appalling that yet another document containing racist language is still widely circulated within a government agency.
“The Minister for Women and Equality must launch an urgent review of all government departments, agencies and independent bodies to determine if there are other documents containing this or any other racist terminology and ensure that these are withdrawn immediately.”
“Swift action is required from a conservative government that has previously refused to accept the existence of structural racism in the first place. Labor is serious about eradicating the structural racial inequality that scars our society and will introduce a groundbreaking Racial Equality Act to tackle it at its roots.”
Labor MP Kim Johnson, a member of the all-party race group, said it was “utterly outrageous” that such language was allowed to remain in official government documents.
“It’s amazing it’s taken this long for this to surface. If proof is needed that the UK state is structurally and endemic racist, here it is in black and white,” she said.
“The use of the N-word by government agencies in the 21st century shows how black people are still treated as second-class citizens. Yet this government still chooses to deny the existence of institutional racism.”
Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State in the Cabinet, has been asked to look into the matter
She added: “Reactions from the DWP and the Met Office have been tenuous, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. From the Windrush scandal to introducing increased racist powers for the police, including scrutiny and search, this government is perpetuating the colonial divide-and-rule mentality to distract from its disastrous record… I will urge them in Parliament for answers at the earliest possible Opportunity.”
In the offensive DWP filings, first issued in 2010 to help physicians assess disability benefit claims, which were still in use until a few days ago, blacks were labeled as people of the “N*****d -Race”. The Met Office study, entitled Monitoring of Mean Radiant Temperature for Man, was published in 2012 and has also been publicly available to date.
Both documents have now been removed online after highlighting the wording they contained The Independent. The Met Office has apologized “for any wrongdoing” while the DWP has launched an internal investigation into how its document stayed in circulation for so long.
Political activist Professor Gus John narrated The Independent: “N*****d … does not mean a geographic place or region, but a people whose place in the human realm has been defined as primitive, undeveloped, backward, and not as human as the rest of mankind.” They are suitable for use as furniture or for experiments by eugenicists.”
Christine Jardine, MP for Edinburgh West and Liberal Democrat Equality Spokesperson, said: “These revelations are really shocking. Racist terms and racism in any form have absolutely no place in our society or our government.
“The government now urgently needs to review and investigate their departments to ensure we see no further incidents.”