A piece in yesterday’s Telegraph:
A police watchdog inspector claims the Home Office is paying him less than a black female colleague because he is a white man and to have reduced her salary would have caused his bosses “reputational damage”.
Matthew Parr, one of the five HM Inspectors of Constabulary who oversee the UK’s police forces, is suing Priti Patel for what he claims was a “ham-fisted” attempt to cut his pay because the Home Office was frightened of being taken to court by a black woman HMI.
It is believed to be the first case of its kind and could set a precedent for future sex and race discrimination cases.
HMI Wendy Williams, who led the inquiry into the Windrush scandal, was appointed 15 months before Mr Parr to the same post of HM Inspector of Constabulary on a salary of more than £185,000.
However, Mr Parr, a former Royal Navy officer and Rear Admiral, took his HMI post in 2016 on a salary of £133,983 job – nearly 37 per cent less than Ms Williams – when former prime minister Theresa May was Home Secretary.
At the time of her appointment, the Treasury was trying to cut costs and discussed paying her a similar salary to that Mr Parr was later to receive but decided there was a “risk of a legal challenge on the grounds of discrimination” if they did that, Mr Parr has claimed.
Mr Parr claimed to the Central London employment tribunal that she got her pay because the Home Office were concerned about “reputational damage” and assumed he would accept the pay and not bring a claim.
At the request of Ms Williams and the Home Office, the tribunal had been asked to keep details of her pay negotiations secret but the tribunal refused, saying the salaries were a matter of public record and the machinations behind them should also be public.
The documents show that both Mrs May and Sir Mark Sedwill, then permanent secretary at the Home Office, wanted to appoint new inspectors at the bottom of a £134,000 to £191,000 scale.
Sir Tom Winsor, the chief HMI of police, was already on a salary of £195,000 to £199,000 and Zoe Billingham, another HMI, was also on an equivalent scale to Ms Williams, at between £185,000 and £189,000.
But Sir Mark told the Treasury in a letter: “The Home Office was concerned that to pay [Ms Williams] less than her fellow HMIs presented the Government with a risk of a legal challenge on the grounds of discrimination.”
In his witness statement, Mr Parr said the documents showed the Government decided to pay Ms Williamsat the top of the pay band because of a “risk of legal challenge on the grounds of discrimination and of reputational damage”.
“The [Home Office], upon my appointment, and after an appeal, has refused to extend to me the same favourable treatment. I am a white man,” said Mr Parr.
He recognised he was on a “relatively high salary” and would be “entirely satisfied” if all HMIs were paid at his rate but he said: “This is, for me, principally a question of fairness.”
He added: “It is fundamentally unfair to pay people wildly different amounts for doing what is, by any measure, identical work.”
He said the way the Home Office had tried to drive down pay had been “ham-fisted and badly thought through; they have involved treating people unfairly and, I assert in this claim, unlawfully”.
The tribunal continues.
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