Manchester University falls foul of discrimination laws

An Industrial Tribunal has unanimously ruled that Manchester University Law Faculty was guilty of racial discrimination in its treatment of one of its law lecturers.

The Birmingham tribunal found that in six out of eight complaints the university – which helped draft the Race Relations Act – unlawfully discriminated against Dr Asif Qureshi.

Professor Rodney Brazier, a co-respondent, was found in breach of the Race Relations Act in respect of four of the complaints.

Qureshi joined the faculty as a lecturer in international fiscal law in 1985 and until recently he was the only non-white member among the depart-ment's 24 academic staff.

According to the tribunal's judgment, resentment against him appears to have been kindled when he complained about “elements of networking” over the appointment of a professor at the university.

His complaint prompted the university to change its rules.

The tribunal found that Qureshi subsequently became the victim of racial discrimination on several occasions.

The job of designing uses for a large surplus in a research fund was passed to a white lecturer junior to Qureshi, despite the fact that Qureshi was a specialist in the area for which the fund was established.

Later abuses included refusing him study leave and, on two separate occasions, blocking promotions.

The case was first heard in 1994 in Manchester, which brought a majority decision in Qureshi's favour. Both Qureshi and the university appealed.

“I have reservations as to whether the university will take the decision seriously,” said Qureshi. “They have fought the case vigorously, suppressed vital documents and at one point suggested the best course was for me to leave. It has all caused me a great deal of anguish.”

Makbool Javaid, the solicitor at the Commission for Racial Equality who represented Qureshi at the hearings, added: “I think it is a significant decision. It highlights the fact that discrimination exists not only in the profession but even in the liberal atmosphere of the law faculty of a successful and prestigious university.”

Professor Brazier refused to comment. A spokesman for the university said: “We are considering our position. No decision [on an appeal] has been taken as yet.”