Race case 'shame' for faculty

Manchester University's law faculty will have to pay the highest ever damages for racial discrimination in a case described by an industrial tribunal as “a matter of sadness and shame” for the faculty.

On 13 November, Birmingham Industrial Tribunal ordered the faculty to pay £43,560 to lecturer Dr Asif Qureshi after upholding a string of racial discrimination claims made by him against the university this summer.

The former dean, Professor Rodney Brazier, a co-defendant in the case, was ordered to pay £1,320.

And in a subsequent written judgment, the tribunal delivered a scathing verdict on the university's handling of Qureshi's grievances.

Qureshi, who joined the university in 1985, had accused the university of assigning an important job to a less qualified lecturer, refusing him study leave and blocking promotions on two separate occasions.

The tribunal said the university had displayed a “lofty disregard” to Qureshi's com- plaints of discrimination and adopted a “negative, hostile and inadequate” stance.

It singled out Brazier for criticism, claiming that he was “personally obstructive” towards Qureshi's attempts to win a promotion in 1993, adding: “This was, in our judgement, compounded by his evidence at the hearing which, on this issue, we found quite unbelievable, and yet he persisted with it.”

The judgment went on to note that Qureshi had since been appointed a senior lecturer by the university and had been further promoted last month to become a reader.

But it said that none of the senior staff had personally congratulated him.

“We are surprised and saddened that senior members of the faculty have not found the grace personally to apologise to him following the decision of the tribunal, or to offer their congratulations on his appointments.”

The tribunal called on the faculty to implement a new equal opportunities policy – and train staff in its procedures.

Professor Brazier was unavailable for comment, but in a statement, the university said that it had reorganised its administrative structures in 1994 to ensure complaints of discrimination were dealt with speedily.

It said the university had recently discussed its procedures with the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) and it had “responded positively” to them.

Makbool Javaid, head of litigation at the CRE, which represented Qureshi, said: “I don't think there have been any decisions in the field of racial discrimination which have been so damning of a university.”