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Recruit to join police as claim of discrimination for being white, heterosexual male settles

Cheshire Police have reached a settlement with a would-be trainee who won a tribunal claim that he had suffered discrimination as a heterosexual white man.

Matthew Furlong took the case successfully to an employment tribunal in February saying he had been unfairly disadvantaged by diversity criteria.

His lawyer Jennifer Ainscough, of law firm Slater and Gordon, said at the time: “This is the first reported case of its kind in the UK where positive action has been used in a discriminatory way. Matthew’s courage in pursuing this will hopefully ensure it is the last. 

“Had he not been such an exceptional candidate he may not even have suspected anything was wrong and this unlawful and unacceptable selection process may have been allowed to continue.”

Mr Furlong is the son of a police officer and said he was told at his interview that he was well-prepared and “couldn’t have done more”.

A statement from Slater and Gordon said that under the terms of an agreement reached Mr Furlong could not discuss the matter himself but he would now be starting work as a student police officer with the Cheshire force in September.

Ms Ainscough said: “Positive action is an incredibly important tool to aid diversity in the workforce but this case is a reminder that it must be applied correctly to ensure that employers still recruit candidates based on merit above all else. 

“Matthew was an exceptional candidate who I am sure will be an exceptional police officer and we wish him every success in his future career.”

Mark Smulian

See also: Positive action: First Employment Tribunal case highlights stumbling blocks - Paul McFarlane's analysis of the Employment Tribunal ruling.