Police investigate racist letter sent to vet who lifted lid on discrimination in farming industry


POLICE are investigating a vile racist letter sent to a vet and academic who lifted the lid on race discrimination in the farming industry.

Navaratnam Partheeban, 36, wrote an article in which he laid bare the problem of racism suffered by ethnic minority workers at all levels of the farming sector.

Days later, Navaratnam received an anonymous letter through the post which told him: “You’re black…get over it.”

The lecturer in Livestock Production at the Royal Agricultural University, Cirencester, Gloucestershire, defiantly posted the letter online and reported the matter to the police as a hate crime.

Gloucestershire police have confirmed today that they are investigating the handwritten letter which contained racial abuse under the Malicious Communications Act.

The letter – with the grammar and spelling corrected – stated: “Re: your article in Farmers Weekly. This country is full of you moronic b**s. If you don’t like it, go back to your parents’ world.

“You may think you are British but there never has been a black Englishman and there never will be. If a dog is born in a stable it does not mean it becomes a horse.

The offending letter

“You’re black. Get over it!”

Navaratnam, who grew up and went to university in Edinburgh, shared the letter to Twitter with the simple comment: “Sent to me today to my workplace by post.”

@suziegeewizz responded: “How disgusting. Solidarity with you my friend. These cowards work in the dark or in mobs because they are so full of fear.

“Their lives must be so small and bitter and narrow. May yours be full of love and good things.”

@nickylabour4eva wrote: “I’m ashamed to be the same nationality as the author of that vile scrawl.

“I’m proud to stand in solidarity with you as a fellow Brit though Navaratnam. These ignorant people will never win in our country. We won’t let them.”

@minette_batters, the National Farmers Union President, wrote: “Thank goodness you chose to expose this abhorrent behaviour.

“If anyone else receives anything like this, then please share – with us the many. We will always stand with you.”

Navaratnam yesterday (Tues) said: “I was shocked but prepared as talking publicly about these issues carries this risk.

“There is discrimination [in agriculture] so awareness needs to be increased before we can think of increasing education to change these views.

“I must say there are plenty of very welcoming, friendly and kind people in agriculture which is why I am still involved in the farming sector.

“I think the support on twitter has been great but we are kidding ourselves if we believe this is an isolated incident.

Vet and academic Navaratnam Partheeban

He continued: “It’s like an iceberg, the letter is what we see but we need to work to deal with all the stuff that we can’t.

He added: “I want to increase awareness of these problems in the veterinary and farming sector and therefore work together to reduce them so that both sectors are united, welcoming and open for all.”

In his original article, Navaratnam wrote: “The vast majority of people have been truly amazing and have treated me with warmth, friendship and respect.

“But, unfortunately, there have been situations which have led me to feel isolated and uncomfortable.

“My experiences include having had a farmer refuse to have me on farm based on my skin colour, hearing a student describe people from another ethnicity in a defamatory way, and hearing qualified vets use racist terminology in conversation.

“Excuses such as ‘but I have a black friend’ or ‘but I have been to India’ have been used as justifications for certain people’s attitudes.”

Professor Joanna Price, Vice Chancellor of the Royal Agricultural University, said: “We are proud of our senior lecturer Navaratnam Partheeban’s campaigning work against prejudice in all its forms and he has our complete support.

“The abhorrent views in the letter he courageously shared highlight the need for universities, colleges, schools, industry, policy-makers and other organisations to work together to fight ignorance and prejudice with education and to promote diversity and tolerance.”

A spokeswoman for Gloucestershire Police said: “We received a report at 1.30pm on November 4 that a man had received a handwritten letter which contained racial abuse.

“We are now investigating this under the Malicious Communications Act.”

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