Whistleblowers: Glasgow resists court

October 5, 2001

Glasgow University is refusing to reveal the names of the referees it relied on when it declined to award a professorship to renowned transplant surgeon Rahul Jindal, despite two court orders that said it must.

In one of the sector's most high-profile race discrimination cases, Dr Jindal said that the university discriminated against him when it reneged on a promise that he would be given a personal chair. He claimed that he was promised the chair when he was lured to the Glasgow Western Infirmary from a prestigious post at the University of Indiana.

In an initial hearing at the Glasgow employment tribunal earlier this year, the university was ordered to produce Dr Jindal's references after it refused voluntary disclosure. The tribunal said that while disclosure would cause "difficulty and inconvenience" to the university, the references and the names of the referees must be revealed in the interest of fairness because "the importance to be attached to fact and opinion as expressed in the references is entirely dependent upon the regard with which each referee is held".

Glasgow resisted the order of disclosure and went to the Employment Appeals Tribunal. Earlier this summer, the appeal judge, Lord Johnston, ruled against the university.

He said: "We... accept that not only should the applicant know who the authors were but also their professional and racial background."

The university is appealing against the ruling, taking the case to the Scottish Court of Appeal, arguing that the system of confidential academic references is at stake.

Dr Jindal has won financial backing from the Commission for Racial Equality to fight the appeal, and has subsequently lodged a separate employment tribunal complaint after he was denied the promotion for the second year running. The fresh application includes an allegation that he has been victimised as a result of his first complaint.

In the late 1990s, Dr Jindal performed the world's first operation to link with a tube blood vessels in the damaged liver of a dying six-year-old boy. Dr Jindal was then assistant professor of surgery at the University of Indiana.

The university has confirmed it is involved in the dispute and that it is contesting the allegations. A date has not been set for the appeal or for the hearing of the fresh application.

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