Arab insurance broker demands apology for racial slur from British firm

Senior figures at Gallagher were accused of being Islamophobic towards Nawaf Hasan

DUBAI, UAE. January 19, 2014 -  Dr. Vince Cable, UK Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, speaks about the UK's economic recovery at Jumeirah Emirates Towers in Dubai, January 19, 2014.  (Photo by: Sarah Dea/The National, Story by: Lianne Gutcher, Business)
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A former employee of the English rugby premiership's sponsor has demanded an apology after senior officials called him a “complicated fat Arab” and “a very greedy one”.

Nawaf Hasan, who used to work for insurance broker Gallagher but left for a competing firm, said the words were Islamophobic and offensive.

He was involved in a legal action - since dismissed - by Gallagher against rival company Ardonagh, who were accused of poaching employees.

“I was shocked and hurt by the racist and Islamophobic language used by former colleagues who continue to hold senior positions at AJ Gallagher and in light of the comments, I fully expect a public apology from The Gallagher Group,” said Mr Hasan in a statement.

“The judge was right when he said they were like fanatical football supporters. There should be no place where abusive and racist language is acceptable,” he added.

"Imagine how it felt to read grossly offensive racist and Islamophobic slurs from ex-colleagues?" he said in a comment reported by The Daily Telegraph.

Dismissing Gallagher's case last week, a high court judge hit out at its international commercial director Vyvienne Wade for a "wholly gratuitous and in context grossly insulting reference" to Mr Hasan's religion and the Quran, The Insurance Times reported.

Simon Matson, the UK boss of Gallagher, referred in July 2017 to Mr Hassan as a “complicated fat Arab” in a WhatsApp message. Chief Operation officer Gary Lashmar added Mr Hasan was a “very greedy one”.

In reference to Mr Matson, Justice Friedman described the language as inflammatory and part of an exaggerated reaction to employees departing.

In March 2019 the-then leader of the Liberal Democrats, Sir Vince Cable, wrote to the CEO of Premier League rugby asking it to review its relationship with Gallagher after the slurs were revealed.

“Whatever the rights and wrongs of the case, such awful words from the chief executive of Rugby Premiership’s biggest and most prominent sponsor can only inflict damage on the sport. Campaigns such as the ‘Kick racism out of rugby’ group can only be severely undermined by such associations,” Sir Vince said.

“The disgraceful culture should have been kicked out of Britain’s boardrooms decades ago and it is not Premiership Rugby’s fault that it has found itself in this situation,” he added.

Gallagher said the language was regrettable and not a true reflection of its culture.