Big Brother professor ‘unfairly dismissed’

Tribunal rules Manchester wrongly sacked high-profile psychologist Geoff Beattie

August 20, 2014

Source: Edge Hill University

A professor best known as the resident psychologist on reality show Big Brother was unfairly sacked by the University of Manchester over his outside work, a tribunal has ruled.

Geoff Beattie, who was professor of psychology at Manchester between 1994 and 2012, came to prominence for his work analysing the body language of contestants on the show when it was broadcast on Channel 4.

Beattie, who appeared on Big Brother in its first 10 series, also worked on other TV programmes, including relationship advice programmes Life’s Too Short, Family SOS and Dump Your Mates in Four Days, and was on-screen psychologist for ITV’s paranormal show featuring celebrities, titled Ghosthunting With

The Belfast-born academic, who is also an expert in consumer behaviour, also conducted research for well-known brands Direct Line and Nivea.

However, he was dismissed for gross misconduct from Manchester in November 2012 after it was alleged that he had failed to disclose the full extent of his outside work.

It was also claimed his work went beyond broadcasting related activities into private consultancy and he had failed to account to the university for the resources he had used in doing it, particularly time spent by his research assistants. 

Professor Beattie, who is now professor of psychology at Edge Hill University, disputed the charge and an employment tribunal has now ruled in his favour.

In a decision published on 20 August, it notes the university generally encouraged outside work on the part of its academic staff and had used Professor Beattie’s media profile to attract students. 

“While it was reasonable to conclude that his actions had been in breach of the relevant policies, it was unfair to dismiss him for what was a first disciplinary offence,” it said.

“He had not acted dishonestly or deliberately breached the policies and his long service and excellent record with the university should have been given greater weight,” it added.

Potential damages related to the unfair dismissal are due to be decided at a further hearing.

jack.grove@tsleducation.com

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For some reason Brian Cox's name popped into my head when I was reading this article.

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