'I won't be silenced,' says race tutor

March 10, 2006

Leeds University is investigating the comments of one of its lecturers after he told a student newspaper that black people were, on average, less intelligent than white people.

Frank Ellis, a lecturer in the department of Russian and Slavonic studies, is the latest in a steady stream of academics whose controversial views on race have tested university policies on academic freedom.

Speaking on a phone-in on Radio 5 Live this week, Dr Ellis stood by his views and said that he would not be silenced.

He had earlier told the Leeds Student that he was a supporter of the late Enoch Powell, who warned that immigration would lead to "rivers of blood".

He said that he would support repatriation if it were done humanely.

Students at the university have called for Dr Ellis to be sacked and are to picket his lectures.

Ruqayyah Collector, education officer at Leeds, said: "All our students have a right to study in an environment free from racism and discrimination and to be judged on their academic performance and not the prejudices of their tutor."

A spokeswoman for Leeds said that there was no evidence that Dr Ellis had treated students in a discriminatory manner. She said that while the university supported academic freedom, academics had a responsibility to exercise this freedom within the context of the university's values.

"We are deeply distressed that this expectation has not been met in opinions attributed to Dr Ellis," she said. "We have written to Dr Ellis asking him to clarify his position with respect to the university's policy on equality and diversity, and we are seeking clarification on the legal implications of his attributed comments."

Dr Ellis's views on race and intelligence have caused the university problems before. In March 2000, it failed to stop him attending a USconference organised by far-right eugenics group American Renaissance.

Dr Ellis is a supporter of Charles Murray, who co-wrote The Bell Curve, which argued that blacks are less intellectually capable than whites.

In 1996, Edinburgh University lecturer Chris Brand made similar claims and eventually left the university. In 2002, Geoffrey Sampson, a professor at Sussex University, also caused a furore when he argued there was overwhelming scientific evidence that races differ on intelligence. He is still in post.

The Commission for Racial Equality said that it would investigate Dr Ellis's remarks if it received a complaint.

Dr Ellis was unavailable for comment.

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