The three lions, the tweet and the racist comment

19th July 2021


Despite the title, sadly this is not a tale of fiction but of a man allegedly posting a racist tweet on his social media account.



The Euros football final, held at Wembley on the 11 July 2021, was always going to be a powder keg that could go off and indeed it did, in many ways. 

The Football was very emotive, for those playing and for those watching. With our boys reaching the finals, the first time the England team has reached a final in 55 years, it is not difficult to see why fans were so invested. Despite holding the Italians to a one all draw into extra-time; England unfortunately lost in the penalty shootout by one goal.

For some, our loss overshadowed the fantastic effort that the team had put in and took to, amongst other things, social media to vent their frustration. One such individual has been named as Andrew Bone, an employee of Savills Estate Agents. 

On his Twitter account, Mr Bone identified himself as working for Savills and held the role of Commercial Building Manager. In the tweet from his personal account, sent shortly after the loss of the penalty shootout, Mr Bone took aim at certain England players accusing them of losing the game for England. His short tweet contained a notorious and derogatory racist term that we will not debase ourselves by repeating in this article.

After many people accused Mr Bone’s actions of racism, the tweet was removed.  However, it was too little and too late as many have apparently shared, captured or otherwise taken a copy of Mr Bone’s tweet. Further, they have identified his LinkedIn account, strengthening his ties with Savills.


What happened next?

Mr Bone has been arrested after self-presenting to the police station following allegations that he had posted malicious communications. Additionally, Savills have suspended Mr Bone and stated that they take a zero-tolerance approach to racism. Their own investigation is pending the police investigation.

Mr Bone has stated that his Twitter account was hacked and that the offending post was created by the hacker.


What are the legal issues?

When you look at the comment Mr Bone is alleged to have made, it is, undoubtedly, racist in tone. The interesting hurdle that he has thrown into the mix and hence why we say allegedly, is his assertion that his account was hacked. Therefore, the question becomes, did he make the discriminatory remark or did the alleged hacker? This is the question the police and Savills must ask themselves. 

Since we are employment, not criminal law experts, we will stick with the issues facing Savills. What is interesting to read is that Savills have apparently said their own investigation and therefore outcome, is pending the police investigation. This is actually erroneous and in fact, the ACAS guide on disciplinary and grievances tells us that employers need not wait for the outcome of criminal proceedings where the matter is urgent. Therefore, there is nothing stopping Savills looking into this matter themselves and coming to their own conclusions. 

Commentators may say that this could result in two different outcomes, one from Savills and the other from police. We would agree but remember, we are talking about two different standards of proof, criminal and civil. In addition, Savills could conclude that through Mr Bone’s actions, he has brought the company into disrepute because many of the reports you read on this subject name them as his employer.

We are not aware of what policies, procedures or training Savills have in place but it does act as a reminder for other organisation to have in place, you guessed it, policies, procedures and training to stop these issues from happening. 

Such policies could include a social media policy, equality and diversity and/or anti-harassment and anti-bullying policy. These should dovetail into your disciplinary policy and procedure. Training could (and should) include equality and diversity and explanations to your workforce what constitutes discrimination, harassment etc. and what the consequences of such action will be. These policies and training should be updated and rolled out to your workforce at the commencement of employment and at regular intervals.


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