3,300 PC; Barmy Civil Servants Carry out 'Assessment' of Prehistoric Stones on Remote Scots Island in Case They Offend Gays or Ethnic Minorities

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Byline: Dean Herbert

TO the outsider, they are a weather-beaten circle of rocks that have stood on a remote Scottish island for thousands of years.

But for officials at the Scottish Executive, the prehistoric ruins on Orkney are a potential hotbed of homophobia and racist hate crime.

The ancient Neolithic ruins have caused no discernible trouble since 3,300 BC but civil servants decided to investigate the 'equality issues' surrounding them - in case they discriminated against gays and ethnic minorities.

Now their findings on The Ring of Brodgar have been published in a nine-page taxpayer-funded report, one of many 'Equality Impact Assessments' (EQIAs) carried out over the past two years, costing the public purse up to [pounds sterling]1million.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Executive concluded the stones presented no immediate threat to gays and other minority groups - but recommended another check should be made in five years' time.

Executive officials have to gauge i f proposed new policies and government activity might cause offence to minorities.

Last year, they conducted an assessment to find out if Scotland's canals were homophobic. Again unsurprisingly, the canals were found to be reasonably gay-friendly.

The Scottish Daily Mail has learned that Executive officials have carried out 100 EQIAs, each costing up to [pounds sterling]10,500, on a range of policies since 2008.

Last night, ministers were accused of wasting scarce public funding on fruitless and unnecessary attempts to pamper minorities.

John Midgley, of the Campaign Against Political Correctness, said: 'These exercises are a complete waste of taxpayers' money which serve to undermine front-line public services. …