THE manager of a home care service that supports vulnerable and elderly people in Swindon could lose his licence after making an “appalling” comment about black people online.

The Adver has seen evidence of a comment Bluebird Care Swindon franchise owner Ben Curtis made on Facebook in which he referred to the native population of South Africa as savages.

This happened during a discussion on the South Africans in Swindon group which began when Mr Curtis shared a petition to save the statue of Cecil John Rhodes at Oxford’s Oriel College after the college governors voted unanimously to remove it.

Group member Katy Pheiffer posted: “Firstly, [Cecil] was horrifically racist. His laws regarding rights of blacks to vote and own property paved the way for apartheid.

“Secondly, his scholarship specifically excluded women, as per his own instruction in his will. He’s a racist and sexist and his views have no place in modern society.”

Mr Curtis replied: “Wake up snowflake, that was a very different world back then to what it is today. You took decisions based on the knowledge you had at your disposal back then.

“The indigenous population had no education and behaved like savages to themselves, they still do. Get real and read some books, you foolish woman.”

Ms Pheiffer took a screenshot of the discussion before it was deleted from the page, then sent it to the Adver.

She added: “He posted a disturbing attack saying that black people were uneducated savages and didn’t deserve civil rights, the right to own a home, or vote.

“It was heartbreaking to read that someone referred to the lovely population of South Africa as savage, it is unimaginably cruel, and to suggest that apartheid was the right thing to do is abhorrent.

“This kind of vile racism is not okay in society and society deserves better, it’s appalling. People that speak so badly of people of colour should be exposed.”

Head of compliance and quality for Bluebird Care Neil Murray said: “We were absolutely appalled by these comments made by one of our franchise owners.

“As soon as they were brought to our attention, we took immediate action to begin a director-led investigation into his conduct and ownership of the Bluebird franchise.

“This is now ongoing and will conclude later this week. Depending on the outcome of this investigation, this could lead to the loss of his licence.

“We are implementing an immediate focused audit on the business’s Equality Impact Assessment as well as their application of the Equality and Diversity policy. Ben himself is also required to attend equality and diversity training immediately.

“We have a zero tolerance policy for any kind of discrimination and inappropriate behaviour, and we wanted to make very clear that these comments do not represent the views of our organisation.

“We take pride in employing a diverse and inclusive workforce. We actively support all employees to deliver the best level of care possible, regardless of their race, gender or sexuality."

The Adver tried to contact Mr Curtis several times but he did not respond.