Whistleblowers: Serial tribunal-goer is victorious at last

November 8, 2002

An Asian lecturer who has made discrimination claims against at least 13 universities in about 40 separate legal cases has secured a victory against the University of Greenwich.

The Ashford employment tribunal ruled last week that Suresh Deman, who was a senior lecturer at Greenwich, was unfairly dismissed and suffered injured feelings after a discriminatory remark made by a colleague. The university said this week that Mr Deman had made 70 separate allegations against it and its staff, and the tribunal had upheld only two. It is considering an appeal.

Mr Deman was appointed senior lecturer at the University Business School in November 1997, but was dismissed for gross misconduct two years later, in November 1999, after a disciplinary panel found he had omitted key facts from his job application form, and had made false claims for relocation expenses.

A spokesman for Greenwich said this week: "He made over 70 complaints of race discrimination and victimisation against the university, which were considered at an employment tribunal at Ashford over six weeks in March 2002 and October 2002. Two of the complaints were upheld and the remainder were either rejected or found to be out of time.

"The tribunal inferred that a former colleague, who has since left the university, made a racially discriminatory remark and made an award to Mr Deman for injury to feelings. They also concluded that there had been a procedural unfairness in the conduct of the disciplinary investigation which led to the dismissal and made a financial award in recognition of this."

The spokesman said Greenwich was still waiting for a written summary of the tribunal's conclusions, and "the university will decide whether to appeal when this is received".

Mr Deman told The THES this week that he had been awarded £43,000 in damages from Greenwich, and he felt he had been fully vindicated by the result of the case.

Mr Deman is widely known among vice-chancellors in the UK. He has made claims against numerous institutions, including Queen's University, Belfast, where he was also once employed, as well as universities that have rejected his application for jobs, such as Glasgow Caledonian and Nottingham. He recently settled a claim against King's College London out of court for what is thought to be a five-figure sum, but King's did not admit liability. Bradford University confirmed this week that it was also facing a claim from Mr Deman.

The THES reported in May 1999 that the London tribunal had rejected Mr Deman's claims of race discrimination and victimisation against the Association of University Teachers, which he fell out with after a row over the assistance it offered him in his case against Queen's. Although the union was vindicated, the tribunal chair criticised then general secretary David Triesman - now general secretary of the Labour Party - for "displaying a surprising degree of naivety and ignorance as to the reality of discrimination on the shop floor".

AUT national executive committee member and former AUT president Joanna De Groot was described as "a patronising, unreliable and evasive witness".

The Employment Appeal Tribunal this week rejected an appeal by Mr Deman against a decision by the London employment tribunal chair to refuse to grant him an adjournment of his case against City University. The appeal judge said: "The application never stood any change of succeeding on appeal. No proper grounds were put forward to challenge the chairman's judgment. The appeal was made extremely late, causing very hurried and detailed preparation for today's hearing, and the applicant has not even attended to advance his arguments." Costs were awarded against Mr Deman.

Mr Deman said he had about 29 cases pending against universities, but this reflected the fact that he had been "blackballed" by the higher education sector. "I am entitled to bring as many cases as I want," he said. "I have made 400 to 500 job applications, and I have not gone after everybody."

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