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University and College Union cleared of harassment in landmark tribunal

By Dan Ashley | UCU | March 25, 2013

An Employment Tribunal has found in favour of UCU on all ten complaints of harassment brought by a UCU member who opposed the union’s policy on Palestine.

The claimant had been supported in his claim by leading lawyer Anthony Julius. In giving their reasoning the Tribunal stated that ‘the proceedings are dismissed in their totality’ and ‘we greatly regret that the case was ever brought. At heart it represents an impermissible attempt to achieve a political end by litigious means.’

The Tribunal also described themselves as troubled by the implications of the claim, stating that ‘underlying it we sense a worrying disregard for pluralism, tolerance and freedom of expression, principles which the courts and tribunals are, and must be, vigilant to protect’.

While witnesses for UCU were described in the tribunal’s decision as ‘careful and accurate’, some witnesses for the claimant were described as appearing to ‘misunderstand the nature of the proceedings and more disposed to score points or play to the gallery rather than providing straightforward answers to the clear questions put to them’.

John Mann MP and former MP Denis MacShane were collectively described as giving ‘glib evidence, while testimony of another key witness for the claimant was described as ‘extraordinarily arrogant but also disturbing’.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said:

“I am delighted that the Tribunal has made such a clear and overwhelming judgement in UCU’s favour. There are many different views within UCU and wider society about Israel and Palestine and this decision upholds our and others’ right to freedom of expression and to continue to properly debate these and other difficult questions.” … Full statement

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Citing the tribunal’s judgement:

“It seems to us that a belief in the Zionist project or an attachment to Israel or any similar sentiment cannot amount to a protected characteristic. It is not intrinsically a part of Jewishness and, even if it was, it could not be substituted for the pleaded characteristics, which are race and religion or belief.” (p. 37)

March 27, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on University and College Union cleared of harassment in landmark tribunal