Colleague of killer: I have been victimised

September 22, 2000

The academic supervisor of convicted killer Steven Reid, the lecturer and PhD student jailed for life last week, claims he has been victimised and "scapegoated" after the killing.

Ron Roberts, a senior psychology lecturer, has taken allegations of victimisation against Westminster University to an employment tribunal. He was Mr Reid's PhD supervisor and research partner when Mr Reid bludgeoned to death psychology technician Elizabeth Stacey in a university laboratory in November 1999.

Dr Roberts, who is of American-Indian descent, is claiming discrimination under the Race Relations Act. He is not currently at the university and was unavailable for comment, but it is understood that a key part of his allegations is that he was criticised after the killing and partially blamed for it.

The THES has learnt that after Dr Roberts complained of victimisation, Keith Phillips, the head of the psychology department, admitted that some staff felt "antagonism" towards him, believing that he had somehow contributed to Mr Reid's mental state.

Mr Reid was found guilty of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. The suicidal Mr Reid attacked Ms Stacey because he "wanted a friend in the afterlife". Psychological reports said that Mr Reid could kill again. In his defence, Mr Reid said he was suffering from stress because of his studies.

It is understood that the killing worsened an already tense and often hostile atmosphere in the psychology department. Dr Roberts had already complained about posters mocking his origins on noticeboards. He believed the university had done too little to prevent a recurrence. It is also thought that Dr Roberts was upset that the vice-chancellor had rejected complaints he had made against Professor Phillips.

Problems came to a head early this month when Westminster discovered that Dr Roberts had made allegations against the university to the British Psychological Society. It is understood that Westminster is trying to discipline him for the external complaint, which they believe represents "bringing the university into disrepute".

The employment tribunal has met for a directions hearing, but a full hearing has not been set. The university said this week it "does not wish to make any comment on Ron Roberts or his complaint".

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