College challenges tribunal verdict

November 3, 1995

Northumberland College decided this week to appeal against an industrial tribunal which awarded one of its lecturers Pounds 30,000 damages after he was called an "Irish prat" by a colleague. Principal Willie Mills said the award was "out of all proportion to the proven damage".

Alan Bryans, the lecturer, has been on sick leave since the incident in February. His union representative, Iain Owens of Natfhe said: "I am appalled at the treatment Mr Bryans has received by the college since winning."

Mr Owens said the college was "determined to pursue a vendetta" against Mr Bryans. He claimed the events were being distorted by college authorities which refused to acknowledge that the damages were related to the failure to deal with Mr Bryans's complaint of racial discrimination. He was subsequently not shortlisted for a promotion.

"Having lost the case the college has sought to denigrate Mr Bryans systematically," Mr Owens added.

Mr Mills said he had tried hard to make arrangements for Mr Bryans's return to work and that steps were being taken to raise awareness of race issues in the college. He said terms for his return had been agreed at a meeting six weeks ago.

"Although we were very disappointed by the sum of damages awarded, and the college is appealing against this, we are nevertheless doing as much as we can to make arrangements for Mr Bryans to return to work," Mr Mills said.

Mr Mills said that the college had agreed to give Mr Bryans an alternative staff room and the opportunity to work periodically at home for one month after which the arrangements would be reviewed.

But Mr Owens said there had been no agreement on a return to work. Mr Owens said that the college's grudging attitude towards Mr Bryans was the main obstacle to his return. A meeting with Acas has been scheduled for November 16.

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