Manchester rebuked in race case

December 12, 1997

It is a "matter of sadness and shame" that Manchester University "failed dismally" to follow equal opportunities procedures in its handling of the seven-year race discrimination dispute with law lecturer Asif Qureshi, an industrial tribunal has ruled.

After awarding Dr Qureshi Pounds 44,880 last month, the biggest ever award in a race relations case, the tribunal has urged Manchester University to revise its equal opportunities procedures.

Giving reasons for the decision, the tribunal said that there had been "hostility and antipathy" to Dr Qureshi's concerns since 1989.

The tribunal noted that the evidence for the university was given "almost exclusively by professors of law", but that "high academic achievement was not synonymous with common sense, or a perception and understanding of equal and fair treatment of all persons".

Law faculty dean Rodney Brazier was singled out for criticism. "At all stages Professor Brazier seemed convinced that he was right and the applicant wrong, and he did little to assist him or try to understand him," the tribunal said. "We consider that Professor Brazier should bear an element of damages against the applicant personally. We award the sum of Pounds 1,000 plus interest, which we regard as modest but appropriate."

Justifying the size of the award, including Pounds 25,000 for injury to feelings, the tribunal said it was one of the largest awards in a race relations case. "It does, however, reflect the extremely long period of stress, frustration and sense of injustice which mounted and accumulated over many years."

Since the judgment last month, Dr Qureshi has been promoted to senior lecturer backdated to October 1994, and to a readership, backdated to October 1996.

In a statement, Manchester University said: "An external consultant has conducted an independent debrief within the faculty of law in order to identify lessons which can be learned from the case.

"The university already has in place a training programme for equality and diversity issues and the programme has been underway for a number of years. This has now been strengthened by the appointment of a firm of specialist consultants who will carry out a review of the university's procedures and comment on them to inform future training. Any member of staff who is not trained will not be allowed to take part in recruitment or promotion procedures."

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