'Poet' is fired over 'offensive' racist rhyme

September 29, 2006

A university security guard has been sacked for circulating a racist poem to colleagues.

Mark Newton, who worked at Manchester Metropolitan University, sent staff at the Alsager campus and business school an e-mail of 18 rhyming verses that he called the "Illegal Immigrants Poem".

The poem was written in the first person in the style of someone with a basic grasp of the English language and starts "I cross ocean/ poor and broke/ Take bus/ see employment folk.

"Nice man treat me/ good in there/ Say I need to/ see welfare." It continues: "...Write to friends/ in motherland/ Tell them 'come/ fast as you can'."

An investigation is thought to have begun in June when a colleague of Mr Newton's received the e-mail and alerted an academic at the university.

The union branch chair was contacted, and Brian Simpson, acting human resources director, was informed under the request that the "matter required urgent investigation".

It is thought that the dean and faculty secretary of the business school were also contacted.

Manchester Met's Black Members' Group has labelled the verses "offensive"

and "racial incitement against ethnic minorities in the university".

Its spokesperson, who wished to remain anonymous, said that the group wanted to pursue grounds for a criminal prosecution against Mr Newton.

A spokesman for Manchester Met said: "We take all branches of our equal opportunities and race policies very seriously indeed, up to the point of dismissal for gross misconduct.

He added that Manchester Met "does not comment on personal disciplinary cases, but it does in all cases take action that is appropriate, fair and necessary".

In April last year, Britain's biggest trade union claimed that there was an "institutionally racist" culture at Manchester Met. Unison accused university managers of failing to act despite repeated warnings over several years.

The union said that it had been raising concerns about a racist culture at Manchester Met for more than five years with little effect.


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