Union attacks Leeds over Ellis

July 21, 2006

The academics' trade union has accused Leeds University of compromising its legal obligations to promote positive race relations by allowing suspended lecturer Frank Ellis to retire early with a "handsome" financial payout.

Dr Ellis was suspended in March for views that the university described as "abhorrent". The lecturer in Russian and Slavonic studies had told Leeds student newspaper that he supported a theory that white people were more intelligent than black people and said that multiculturalism and feminism were "corroding" Britain. The university said that by refusing to promise not to repeat such views on campus, Dr Ellis may have "recklessly jeopardised" the university's obligations under the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000.

But the University and College Union said this week that the university may have jeopardised its legal obligations by failing to complete the disciplinary process against Dr Ellis.

Dr Ellis, 53, was given a year's pay to allow him to retire a year sooner than he had wanted. He received an additional four-figure sum towards his legal costs.

Roger Kline, head of equality and employment rights at UCU, said that it was unclear how the university had fulfilled its race-relations duties by allowing Dr Ellis to retire before the completion of any investigation. He said: "The UCU takes the view that with academic freedom comes social responsibility and a duty of care to students and fellow staff."

A Leeds spokeswoman said Dr Ellis was entitled to the same employment, pension and retirement rights as his colleagues.

She said: "His departure from the university renders the whole disciplinary process irrelevant, since that process was about Dr Ellis promoting unacceptably racist views on our campus. He will not do that again."

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