MEMBERS OF the Fire Brigades Union in London are furious at the decision by a New Labour controlled fire authority to reinstate a station officer who was sacked after firefighters claimed he had used racist language. The London Evening Standard took up the defence of a station officer, Tim Kite, from Islington station, north London. The Standard ran a two-page article defending Kite and attacking the Macpherson report into the murder of Stephen Lawrence. The Standard turned its fire on the local union officials who investigated the allegations and brought them to the attention of management.
The following week four councillors-two New Labour, one Tory and a Liberal Democrat-overturned the decision to sack Kite. They did not take evidence from a number of firefighters who say they have heard Kite's comments. The FBU in London is now collating those statements which management and the fire authority have ignored. The whole affair is a test case for the principled policies which the FBU has developed. The union must launch a systematic campaign on every watch and station to explain the facts surrounding the Islington case.