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Author taking Ministry of Justice to tribunal

TRIBUNAL: Olivea Ebanks

A BLACK woman banned from publishing a book about her experiences of racism in the Prison Service is taking the Ministry of Justice to a tribunal.

Olivea Ebanks wrote the memoir Almost British following partial victory in a previous racial discrimination employment tribunal against the Prison Service in 2008.

Ebanks is banned from talking about the memoir’s ban or her case because she is a civil servant.

However, one of her furious supporters told The Voice Ebanks has decided to take the Ministry of Justice to an employment tribunal in December, as she is facing ongoing harassment at work because of her book.

The self-published memoir, which contains extracts from the actual emails presented to the 2008 tribunal and her personal diary of events, was due to hit shelves last September.

OVERSEES

But the Justice Ministry, which oversees the Prison Service, allegedly took steps to prevent that from happening.

The Ministry told The Voice in July that “civil servants must not publish material relating to their work at a government department without seeking permission first. Ms Ebanks' book is unbalanced and misleading, and she has not been given permission to publish it.”


ACCOUNT: Ebanks’ book

Since then, Ebanks’ supporters claim the Ministry has tried to prevent her husband from promoting the book on Facebook.

One supporter, senior pastor Dr Harold C. McFarlane, told The Voice: “She is in danger of losing her job. They have given her a final written warning for gross misconduct, in as much as she refused to pass the manuscript for the book to the Prison Service for approval. They considered this to be insubordination. She is under threat that any further misconduct will result in disciplinary action, which is likely to be dismissal.”

CASE

The London Central Tribunal will hear the case, beginning December 8. Ebanks is alleging victimisation and direct racial discrimination, and harassment on racial grounds.

“She is going to court to prove that the restrictions placed on her are disproportionate,” said McFarlane. “I do not understand how her employers can stop her from giving her personal testimony.”

Ebanks’ furious 87-year-old mother, Rubertha Brathwaite, told The Voice in July: “They told her to take down her website and [she] has been told that she can’t publish her book. I’m not glad about my daughter’s treatment so I’ve decided to take a stand where she can’t.

“She would like to take a stand against this injustice she has experienced, but she can’t afford to lose her job. She has bills to pay. This is why I would like it to go public.

“Her book details her account of what she experienced, so if this is a democratic society, why is she being prevented?”

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson told The Voice on October 21: “We are unable to comment on ongoing legal proceedings."

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