Ex-warden will take race case to Europe
A MARSH community warden who says he was racially abused – because he is Australian – is taking his case to Europe after claiming his human rights were breached by "phone-hacking" council workers.
Former Kent County Council employee Geoff Stephens worked on the Marsh for six years but claimed he was subjected to racist abuse and bullying due to his nationality.
He is now launching the next stage of his case by arguing KCC breached his human rights by allegedly hacking into his phone calls, including one with his doctor.
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He has vowed to take his fight to the European courts after an employment tribunal booted out his claim.
Mr Stephens, 49, who has lived in the UK for 27 years but says he was treated as if he had just stepped off a flight from Sydney, attended the tribunal in Ashford last month.
The Herald revealed in January last year that Mr Stephens planned to sue after the alleged treatment left him on a "cocktail of medication".
Mr Stephens – who worked in Dymchurch and whose brother Rick was a warden in Lydd – claims he was regularly greeted by colleagues with terms such as "G'day sport" and "Is your girlfriend called Sheila?", and that they refused to stop when asked.
He said: "I'm totally disappointed with the tribunal outcome but am really hopeful about Europe. The last few months have been a nightmare and my whole life has been turned upside down.
"I have transcripts which prove they listened to my private conversations, including one with my doctor to see if I was telling the truth about my health.
"I thought strewth, and couldn't believe it when I realised. It's a breach of my human rights under article 8, the right to privacy."
Last year the Herald reported that Mr Stephens believed the comments and behaviour seemed to be "race-inspired" and claimed they were part of a "bigger ugly picture".
He took long-term sick leave from the Community Safety Unit and left KCC's employment last summer.
A spokesman for KCC said: "That claim was struck out on the grounds that it was vexatious. It would be inappropriate for us to comment any further."
When asked about the claims that private telephone conversations had been listened to, the spokesman declined to comment.