Arab journalist branded 'too shouty' by BBC colleagues loses tribunal

Algerian BBC journalist who was disciplined for speaking ‘too loudly and violentlyin Arabic LOSES racial discrimination claim against bosses who referred to him as a ‘Bedouin character

  • Ahmed Rouaba, dall'Algeria, was suing the BBC for alleged racial discrimination
  • BBC accepted some comments made about the journalist were ‘unacceptable
  • However they ruled they were not said with malice, leading Mr Rouaba to take the matter to a tribunal
  • An Arabic-speaking journalist who sued the BBC for racial discrimination after he was disciplined for being ‘too loud and shoutyhas had his case thrown out by a tribunal.

    Ahmed Rouaba, who is in his 50s and of Algerian origin, is said to have upset colleagues at the BBC World Service when he spoke ‘violentlyafter being asked to address a July 2019 meeting in ‘formal Arabicrather than ‘Algerian Arabic.

    A colleague said Mr Rouaba was speaking ‘like a Bedouin’ – a nomadic tribes people partly based out of Northern Africa.

    Algerian Arabic, also known as Dardja, is often difficult to understand for Arab speakers from the Middle East.

    Following complaints, senior officials at the BBC World Service division began a formal internal investigation during which one staff worker suggested Mr Rouaba should explain himself in a more ‘mild way’, while one blamed his ‘cultural backgroundfor his temperament.

    Mr Rouaba complained and the BBC accepted that the comments relating to his culture and ethnicity were ‘unacceptable’, however they ultimately ruled that they were not meant in a ‘harmful or malicious way.

    Algeria-born Ahmed Rouaba (nella foto), chi ha 50 anni, is said to have upset colleagues at the BBC World Service when he spoke 'violently' after being asked to address the meeting in 'formal Arabic' rather than 'Algerian Arabic'

    Algeria-born Ahmed Rouaba (nella foto), chi ha 50 anni, is said to have upset colleagues at the BBC World Service when he spoke ‘violentlyafter being asked to address the meeting in ‘formal Arabicrather than ‘Algerian Arabic

    Others reported that Mr Rouaba, who is still believed to work at the BBC, often became ‘angryat meetings.

    After being given a final written warning, Mr Rouaba decided to sue the corporation for racial discrimination and harassment claiming it was the climax of a six-year ‘systematic victimisation campaign’ contro di lui.

    He alleged colleagues often made racist comment towards him and accused the BBC of doing ‘nothing to protect me from intimidation and racial abuse.

    He also produced medical evidence saying he had ‘numerousGP appointments over the past five years due to work-related stress, which he claims caused him abdominal pain and gastroesophageal reflux symptoms.

    But at a tribunal in central London, Mr Rouaba, who has worked at the BBC for 10 anni, lost his claim for race-related harassment following the three year legal battle.

    The tribunal ruled that his complaint did not enjoy a ‘reasonable prospect of success.

    The multi-media reporter, who is fluent in English and Arabic, had joined the Arabic Service department of the BBC World Service in September 2012, filing various news and sports stories and picture packages from Algeria.

    But problems began in July 2019 after he was invited to a meeting of the Arabic Division.

    A manager wrote to him raising concerns about his conduct at the meetingbefore Mr Rouaba replied to complain about the behaviour of two editors.

    He said he was upset about being asked to speak in formal Arabic because not all Arab speakers could speak ‘Algerian Arabic.

    HR officials at the BBC later conducted interviews with those present at the meeting who said Mr Rouaba ‘usually gets angry often and quickly’, claiming that he raised his voice towards the editors.

    In a statement given to investigators, BBC reporter Safaa Jibara said: ‘There’s a lot of background between him and the management. He has an attitude towards them.

    ‘Before that we have to mention his character and the fact he is from Algeria.

    ‘There is a violence behind it [the way he speaks], a Bedouin character. He always shouts when he tries to give his opinion, he comes across as sharp.. He can’t explain himself in a mild way. He always shouts and is nervous.

    ‘This belongs to his character and his cultural character.

    in agosto 2020, the HR report recommended Mr Rouaba undergo a formal disciplinary review regarding his conduct and he was given a final written warning.

    While the BBC accepted that the comments relating to his culture and ethnicity were 'unacceptable', they ultimately ruled that they were not meant in a 'harmful or malicious way.' (immagine stock)

    While the BBC accepted that the comments relating to his culture and ethnicity were ‘unacceptable’, they ultimately ruled that they were not meant in a ‘harmful or malicious way.’ (immagine stock)

    But he appealed after acquiring copies of the interviews given by Mr Jibara and another editor and filed a grievance against them about their comments.

    A BBC official reviewed the grievance and told Mr Rouaba: ‘I can see why this statement may have been upsetting for you to read and I absolutely agree that these comments are not acceptable.

    But he rejected his complaint, saying the ‘incorrect, unacceptable languagehad been used ‘in an attempt to explain cultural and background aspects.

    Despite the decision, Mr Rouaba carried on his fight, unsuccessfully appealing at another meeting, chaired by the Head of Journalism and accompanied by the BBC’s panel of ‘External Experts’ in agosto 2021. He then took his complaints to a the tribunal.

    In una dichiarazione, Mr Rouana alleged: ‘I have been harassed and intimidated for years by two editors and their clique.

    ‘They have made racist comments towards me and threatened me and have actively participated in a systematic victimisation campaign.

    ‘They have also filed a series of false claims against in order to dismiss me. The BBC has done nothing to protect me from intimidation and racial abuse.

    But tribunal judge Antoine Tinnion dismissed his case saying Mr Rouaba had taken too long to file his tribunal claim.

    Egli ha detto: ‘The Claimant was at pains to state his case that he has been subject to a longstanding campaign of harassment and intimidation extending over a period of yearshe says six yearswhich he says the comments formed part of.

    ‘But the Tribunal was not satisfied that the Claimant’s discrimination complaint enjoys a reasonable prospect of success.