July 24, 2007

Wise words...

Only dead fish go with the flow.
When injustice becomes Law, resistance becomes duty.

Council for Ethnic Minority [CEM]

The Council for Ethnic Minority [CEM] is a voluntary organisation based in London but its services to professional, non-professional and other victims are extended throughout the United Kingdom and overseas. The CEM provides confidential advice for a collective fight against all forms of discrimination in the Higher Education & other sectors.

During the last decade or so discrimination has become endemic in the Higher Education Sector and has severely threatened the tolerance, diversity and employment at places of learning. The statistics of discrimnation claims made in the Employment Tribunals and within Institutions is increasing at an alarming rate. Most employers rather than recognising problems and initiating positive actions to eliminate discrimination in the work place are busy employing punishment tactics, as Professor Noam Chomsky of MIT puts it very eloquently, "We are your masters and you shine our shoes. Any weaker enemy has to be crushed so that the right lessons are taught" [see, Guardian Weekly 1991]. John Carter, Steve Fenton & Tariq Moddod carried out a study funded by the CRE, AUT, NATFHE, CUCO, CVCP, HEFCE & SHEFC and others, whihc shows widespread institutionalised racsim within the Higher Education Sector, see: Ethnicity & Employment in Higher Education 1999. Unfortunately, the findings of that study have long been forgotten like Sir William McPherson’s Report on the Steve Lawrence Enquiry, it has become bedside reading for racist employers and a public relations exercise for the trade unions without the proper groundwork being done on ‘shop floor’.

Unfrotunately, the tribunal system which was supposed to allow the individual the opportunity to represent him or herself, or have their union represent him or her to resolve employment difficulties in a rather informal setting, and at little or no costs has now turned out to be a battleground where the individual is faced with the employers pitching huge legal teams, including QCs who often intimidate poorly qualified Chairmen's of the Tribunals or who came through the backdoor at the blessings of their political Masters or Lord Chancellor's fund raising campaign or under cash for hounour schemes. The employment legislation actually calls for an “equality of arms” between parties but with employers spending literally hundreds of thousands in legal fees to defend the action and quite minor awards given to successful applicants – the “scales of justice” are very heavily tilted against complainants seeking justice and especially claimants representing themselves in the absence of legal aid.

The Commission on Racial Equality [CRE] not only has very limited funds but is also toothless due to political appointments of Tony's cronies for shining shoes. The academic unions have a poor history of representation or committing funds or paying for representation for its members. In fact, despite overwhelming evidence and findings of racial discrimination & vicmtrisatin against a number of universities CRE has not ordered any investigation against them. Rather CRE has denied legal representation to a number of victims particularly from India and Indian subcontinent under the pretext of changes in its priorities. No wonder an Asian woman's [a senior complaint Officer of CRE] brought a claim against the CRE and found it guilty of discrimination by a Central London Tribunal. A number of complaints of Asian professionals are still pending against the CRE and Labour Party cronies. Obviously, CRE, REC and Law Centers have become talking shops and a den for complacency and incompetence. They do nothing except preserving their own existence and organise tea parties for public relations exercise.

Our objective is to guide victims and become an alternative forum for achieving objectives where the CRE and the Unions have failed. Advice is offered regarding harassment, victimization by employers, breach of the CRE Code of Practice under the Race Amendment Act 1976 [as amended].

If you feel the CRE and Unions have failed you and need last minute victim support and alternative advice, contact us before you decide to withdraw your claims. If we cannot help you we will tell you right away or recommend you an experienced legal team.

Since the establishment of CEM we have invited a number of people from abroad to give seminars and for reoresenting the victims in the tribunals. Mr. Prem Kishan Sharma, a leading Civil Right Lawyers of Supreme Court & Director of Barefoot Lawyers Training Institute in India, Professor S Rathore have agreed to provide advice and representation on a ProBono basis. The purpose of these invited lectures and workshops is to develop a Socio-Legal Strategy for the Millennium to equip grassroots voluntary social workers with basic legal knowledge of practical value and at the same time to develop trust and confidence through their commitment, dedication and orientation towards people's empowerment. We have assigned this responsibility to Mr. S. Deman, who was one of the founders & Chair of the CEM. To realize such a strategy we have to shift the emphasis from the Ivory Tower & Fat Cat Legal Frame to a real world approach to reflect expectations of the society at large and the Employment Tribunals in particulars to realise the principle of an ‘equality of arms’ in the administration of justice.

Perhaps you can appreciate very well that such a frame work necessarily has to be completely free from any kind of power play, whether of any agency or Government authority and for such a vocational organisation to survive it is vital to engage those who helped in creating them. Therefore, to eliminate dependency we have decided only to approach our well-wishers, both individual and institutions for financial assistance. We have already organized five such training programmes where we have had interactions with 120 participants from different organizations and different part of the world.

Further we have taken numerous cases in the Employment Tribunals, Employment Appeal Tribunals and also in the Court of Appeal at various stages. Our success has been above the average success rate in the Tribunals and much higher than the success rates of the CRE, REC and Law Centres. CEM’s programmes have been highly successful and the participants found them very enlightening, encouraging and innovative. The programmes are exercises for self-development and activation of thinking process. We are enclosing the concept note as well and the list of our Advisory Board with this appeal.

We appeal to you to advance your time and support according to your skills, ability and convenience. It would be greatly strengthen our efforts and facilitate programme organization and free representation to the needy.

Cheques of any amount may be remitted in the name of ‘Council for Ethnic Minority’

With regards,

C Kumar & Mrs S. Mahadevan, Coordinators

From: http://cemkumar.googlepages.com/

July 20, 2007

Alice in Wonderland might do a better job of running the college...

Principal rejects 'insincere' apology - Times Higher Education Supplement - By Melanie Newman. Published: 20 July 2007

A lecturer is set to lose his job because his apology for publicly criticising the principal was judged to be insufficiently sincere.

Sam Richards was sacked after 30 years at Dartington College of Arts earlier this year over an article he posted on a campaign website opposing the college's forthcoming merger with University College Falmouth. The article suggested that characters from Alice in Wonderland might do a better job of running the college than its current principal, Andrew Brewerton.

College governors upheld the dismissal at an appeal hearing in June but advised that an apology might win the lecturer his job back.
Mr Richards wrote to Professor Brewerton saying he had intended the article to be a satire. "I now realise that the nature and content of that posting could easily be interpreted as a personal attack against you," he added.

But Professor Brewerton did not accept the apology. He said the statement failed to adequately acknowledge the offence of gross misconduct, and that Mr Richards was "regrettably disingenuous" in his assertion that the article was "merely satirical".

He said the apology "fails fully and unreservedly to withdraw the unfounded allegations contained in your website article. For these reasons I do not regard this as a sincere basis for moving forward."

He encouraged Mr Richards to write a "full and unreserved apology" after which his dismissal would be reduced to a less severe penalty. But Mr Richards has declined to make an alternative apology.

"I produced an apology that I could sincerely make," he told The Times Higher. "Anything more would have been grovelling."

July 19, 2007



Bullied academics online forum - Yahoo group

Professor Ellen Larsen...

Coverning up fraud is a rule in Canadian academia

It is a routine procedure in Canadian academia to cover up plagiarism and other fraud. The last issue of Can.Med.Assoc.J. admits this. It starts thus:

“It’s the classic Canadian response to a problem like scientific misconduct, says Toronto physician– scientist Dr. Paul Pencharz. “Deny, deny, deny. Sweep it under the carpet.”

See: http://www.cmaj.ca/cgi/content/full/176/6/749

However, this organization is corrupt also. They did not even publish my letter to the Editor. This letter follows here.

Re: Call for arm’s-length national research integrity agency

There is no doubt that some highly placed individuals in Canadian academia act as a criminal organisation, committing fraud in research and higher education. I am the victim of such fraud. My case and the documents are posted on the Internet: “University of Toronto Fraud” at http://ca.geocities.com/uoftfraud/.

This fraud started in 1986 and is continuing now. My PhD supervisor, Ellen Larsen, had removed me, after five years of my very successful research from the University of Toronto by making a fraudulent academic decision, and then stole my research and my discoveries. Despite all my complaints, University of Toronto and then - NSERC only continued the fraud.

The case of Prof. V. Fabrikant in Concordia University is well known. In Concordia, the integrity of research was violated, Fabrikant’s legitimate complaints were ignored, moreover, he was threatened. He, in fact, was provoked for violence.

Yet, the Fabrikant case was not a good lesson for the corrupt academia: when documents of my case were received, they were treated the same way - officials continued the fraud. It is not possible to believe that the corrupt academia does not understand what it is doing the second time: this new provocation is continuing for twenty years now.

President of NSERC and its other officials, in my case, have committed concealment of fraud: instead of referring the case to the prosecution (which was a specific point in NSERC policy), they gave the same university administration that committed the fraud to “investigate” it. NSERC has intentionally covered up the fraud, supplied ridiculous “justifications” for it and was sending me one lie after another. All this is in the documents.

It can not be believed that the proposition to establish some new agency was even made seriously. Paul Pencharz knows very well about the fraud in his university. Jim Turk knows this very well also, the exchange of e-mails between him, UofT, CAUT and me is posted on my web site. All this is a criminal, indecent game.

Eventually, when corruption has corroded the officialdom, the victim whose life was destroyed should be able to find a way to expose the criminals in the press. In Canada it is not possible. This puts an end to the peaceful quest for justice.

By Michael Pyshnov, from: http://pyshnov.wordpress.com/
Also check: University of Toronto Fraud

July 18, 2007

The Higher Education Corruption Monitor

Corruption in all of its many forms has become a central issue in higher education worldwide. Rapid expansion, fueled by growing demand for access; dramatic increase in private higher education providers; the marketization of many aspects of higher education; and the financial problems faced by institutions and teaching and administrative staff have all contributed to a variety of corrupt practices.

Academic corruption can be found in all countries but is especially prevalent in countries facing severe economic hardships and resultant pressure on their higher education systems, in systems with little external supervision and inadequate quality assurance mechanisms, and in countries in which there is a good deal of societal corruption.

Because of its tradition of probity and reliance on objective and meritocratic values, the problem of corruption is especially important for higher education. Academic institutions and the professoriate claim a special status in all societies—the right to academic freedom and individual and institutional autonomy and a high social prestige. Universities, after all, are responsible for educating the next generation of leaders, conducting scholarly research, and providing objective social analysis. As the national competitiveness in the global economy comes to increasingly depend on the quality of knowledge generated within and on the quality of education provided by a country’s higher education institutions, the costs of academic corruption become considerable.

The dictionary definition of corruption will suffice for academe: “impairment of integrity, virtue, or moral principle; inducement to wrong by improper or unlawful means.” Corruption in higher education can occur at both institutional and systemic levels and influences university examinations, the conferring of academic credentials, the procurement of goods and services, academic and administrative staff recruitment and promotion, budget allocation and utilization, property management, and the licensing and accreditation of institutions. Instances of academic corruption may involve bribery, facilitation of cheating and impersonation, the establishment of diploma mills, forgery and falsification of examination results, degrees and credentials, patronage, cronyism, and professional misconduct among teachers.

The primary goal of the Higher Education Corruption Monitor is to shed light on corrupt practices of all kinds in different countries, provide resources on current research on corruption in higher education, and serve as a forum for information exchange. The Monitor will collect and, in some cases, summarize news reports, documents, legal testimony, university reports, conference materials, research articles, and other kinds of documentation, and make the data available through a dedicated website.

The Monitor will also collect information on policies and initiatives of international agencies and on various measures and reforms undertaken in different countries to address the challenges of corruption in higher education. The Monitor will link its website with websites of other institutions and agencies interested in the topic and with other on-line resources on corruption in order to avoid duplication and at the same time provide maximum attention to the issue. From time to time, the Monitor may issue reports on specific themes relating to corruption in higher education. The Monitor will not seek to verify each item placed on its website but will make every effort to choose reputable reports. The website will be part of the Center for International Higher Education’s widely used website.

The Monitor will be coordinated by Natia Janashia, graduate assistant in the Center for Higher Education (e-mail:

From: The Higher Education Corruption Monitor

July 17, 2007

A reply from Boris...

Dear Mr Proudhon,

Thank you for your email and the blog link, which I read with interest.

Bullying is abhorrent wherever it takes place and I condemn it in the strongest terms. I don't think it right for me to comment further on specific cases, for the simple reason that universities are autonomous institutions and must be trusted to resolve internal disputes without interference from politicians.

Yours sincerely,

Boris Johnson MP

Firstly, we are happy we got a reply. Secondly, we are unhappy about the reply itself. Boris has now moved on to become candidate for mayor of London - good luck to him. We await to hear and see who the next opposition spokesperson will be for higher education, and then we will ask them too to comment.

Regarding the above reply and in particular "...universities are autonomous institutions and must be trusted to resolve internal disputes without interference from politicians", well, Boris my friend you do live in dreamland. This is the point, they can't be trusted to resolve internal disputes, and if politicians don't stick their necks out, well... HEIs are not really accountable to anyone... and so the ritual continues... Thank you Boris for your thoughtful remarks, we are impressed.

Teachers asked if they are being bullied - Australia

School teachers can detail their experiences of being bullied by parents or senior colleagues in a nationwide survey to help curb the problem.

The University of New England (UNE) launched the online survey in late June and will take responses until October 1.

UNE professional studies lecturer Dan Riley leads the study and is working in collaboration with Professor Deirdre Duncan of Australian Catholic University.

The two have previously published results from a 2005 survey that revealed 97.5 per cent of Catholic schoolteachers had experienced some form of bullying in their career.

The survey showed teachers had been bullied most often by school executives, then parents, and followed by principals.

"While most of the situations experienced were at the lower levels of seriousness, including attempts to undermine or belittle a teacher's work or criticism in front of colleagues, they were serious enough to affect the mental or physical health of some of the respondents," Dr Riley said.

"It's a bit frightening – we didn't actually expect to find what we did."

Participating teachers will have their anonymity and confidentiality preserved, the UNE designer of the website said.

The findings of the survey are expected to be published by late December.

From: http://www.news.com.au/ dDan Riley's email is: driley2@une.edu.au

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

This story is typical. Complainers against bullying, especially if done by a manager, rarely succeed and usually lead to dismissals. That's just a fact of life in the UK.

Best to use outside of work methods to put a stop to the bullying -- e.g. criminal charges under the protection from harassment act or private civil harassment suits against the bully him/herself.

Or better still organize your own guerilla campaign of countermeasures - e.g. exposure of the bully.

There are no employment rights left in the UK and employers know it. The Tribunals are stacked with Chairs that are biased/in the pocket of employers and precendents have been established allowng employees to be dismissed fairly if they whistleblow, on the grounds that the whistleblowing causes a 'breakdown in working relationships' -- the catch-all dismissal method these days.

This blogspot is one really good place to expose the bullies as it does have the attention of the media

July 16, 2007

No form of accountability...

Anonymous said...

I set out a complaint of bullying under an antibullying policy and grievance procedure, and was asked to justify reference to the grievance procedure. The employer considered the complaint under the antibullying policy only, which had arbitrary investigation procedures and no right of appeal. It was not upheld, and then they terminated my employment.

Policies don't always work as expected, and those with the most offensive working practices often have the best policies. They don't, however, have any form of accountability such as annual records of complaints.

Grievance procedures: the standard three-step procedure

Your employer's grievance procedure may have more than three steps, but it must include the following.

1. Written statement

You must set out your grievance in writing (often called a step one letter). Your employers grievance procedure should say who to send your letter to. If thats the person causing the problem, or if theyve ignored previous complaints, send it to the HR department or to the persons boss.

2. Meeting

Your grievance should be looked into in a fair and unbiased way. Your employer should invite you to a meeting (sometimes called a hearing) to discuss the problem, and you should attend if you can. If there is someone else involved, they might also be there (but you should tell your employer if you are uncomfortable with this).

The meeting should be at a convenient time for you and anyone else involved. If you think you've not had enough time to prepare, ask for more time. If your employer doesnt agree (and they don't have to), you should go to the hearing, but make sure that your lack of preparation time is noted.

Gather your thoughts before the meeting. Don't be afraid to write down what it is you want to say. There is nothing wrong with reading this out at the meeting.

It is up to your employer what format the meeting takes but they will normally go through the issues that have been raised and give you the opportunity to comment. The main purpose of the meeting should be to try to establish the facts and find a way to resolve the problem. The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) have a code of practice which sets out how your employer should carry out a grievance procedure.

If you ask your employer beforehand, you have a legal right to take a 'companion' (who is a colleague or trade union representative) to the meeting with you. If no colleague is willing to accompany you, and you're not a union member, ask if you can bring a family member or a Citizen's Advice Bureau worker (but your employer does not have to agree to this). The companion can present and/or sum up your case, talk on your behalf and confer with you during the hearing. They're protected from unfair dismissal or other mistreatment for supporting you.

The meeting must be at a convenient time for your companion. You can ask for a postponement of up to five days if necessary to get your chosen companion there.

You should be given notes of the meeting, and copies of any information given by other people. Unless they need to investigate further, your employer should tell you reasonably quickly what's been decided, and about your right to appeal if you're not satisfied. You might be told of the outcome verbally at first but it will usually be confirmed in writing.

3. Appeal meeting

If you're not satisfied with the decision, or you think the procedure followed was seriously flawed, you have the right to an appeal. This is usually heard by a higher level of management. If that isnt possible, your employer could ask an Acas mediator or other independent person to hear it. The appeal hearing is similar to the original meeting, and you have a right to a companion, as before.

Your employer should give you enough time to appeal. If they don't, make your appeal anyway, and say that you'll provide more information later.

If you are considering taking your issue to an Employment Tribunal you may want to appeal even if it seems pointless, because a tribunal award could be reduced if you don't.

If you cant sort out the dispute, you can get help through mediation, conciliation or arbitration, if your employer agrees to it.

How soon can you go to a tribunal if you're still not satisfied?

If your grievance is of the type which could ultimately be taken to an Employment Tribunal you must send your written grievance (step one letter) to your employer no later than three months after the date that the problem occurred.

You must then wait 28 days (starting from the date you sent the step one letter) so that our employer can deal with the matter. Then, if you're not satisfied with your employer's response, you can make your claim to an Employment Tribunal.

Some types of Employment Tribunal claims are not subject to the statutory minimum grievance procedures and have strict time limits. If you are unsure about what to do you can get help from any of the sources listed below.

Where to get help

The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) offers free, confidential and impartial advice on all employment rights issues. You can call the Acas helpline on 08457 47 47 47 from 8.00 am to 6.00 pm Monday to Friday.

Your local Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) can provide free and impartial advice. You can find your local CAB office in the phone book or online.

If you are a member of a trade union you can get help, advice and support from them.

July 14, 2007

Whistle blowing - supporting governance in higher education

All HEIs should have mechanisms through which staff or students can make allegations about perceived irregularities in the running of the institution (often referred to as public interest disclosure or 'whistleblowing'). Provided that the allegation is made lawfully, without malice and in the public interest, the position within the institution of the individual making the allegation should not be jeopardised.

Annexe K of the Committee of University Chairmen Guide for Members of Governing Bodies (HEFCE 01/20) sets out good practice in dealing with whistleblowing (

From: http://www.hegovernance.ac.uk
So, if a staff member raises a legitimate concern regarding 'perceived irregularities' by his/her managers, the governors will be impartial, they will be objective and they will get at the bottom of all this... Yeap! And pigs fly...

Anti-workplace bullying campaign launches

London Brand Innovations has created a new campaign for the anti-workplace bullying charity the Andrea Adam Trust.

The campaign, which includes outdoor, online, DM and experiential activity, will promote the charity’s Ban Bullying at Work Day, which will fall on the 7 November.

The strapline for the campaign urges workers to “speak out” by addressing the issues of workplace bullying.

The charity estimates that bullying in the workplace costs both workers and employers over £18 billion each year and said that one in four workers have experienced bullying at work.

Matt Whiteridge, operations director at Ban Bullying at Work, said: “Following last year’s successful campaign we have been inundated from businesses and from individuals. People are beginning to recognise bullying behaviours and understand their negative impact on the workplace. This year we are taking the campaign up a level to an even wider audience and encourage people to support the campaign in their own workplaces.”

The Andrea Adam Trust is a non-political, non-profit making charity operating to focus on the problems caused by bullying behaviour in the workplace.

From: http://www.mad.co.uk

July 11, 2007

Snooping ScanSafe Ltd

Over the last year we dealt with two attempts to hack this blog and various attempts to break our password. We also had 'Reputation Defender' persuading Google to drop parts of this blog from the search engine.

The most recent snooping around comes from a company called 'ScanSafe Ltd', whose mission - among others -is to:

'...to create, enforce and monitor Web usage policies. Layering real time rule-based filters with up-to-date and accurate categorization database, Web Filtering enforces your organization's acceptable usage policy, protecting you from the legal liabilities of inappropriate content... the problems associated with providing unmonitored and unregulated Internet access steadily increase. ScanSafe Web Filtering Service is fully managed and puts you in control of how your employees use the Internet. ScanSafe delivers best-of-breed filtering with streamlined configuration...'

The question to ask is which 'smart' educational institution is employing 'ScanSafe' to keep its' employees off this blog while they are at work? The answer is simple: Look at the Hall of Shame. And what a vain and useless act considering people can surf from home, internet cafes, libraries, etc. The name and shame policy followed by this blog is getting up some noses. Well, bad luck. Treat your employees with dignity and respect so we can all get a life. The idea that we will remain silent is simply not on.

July 10, 2007

Research project avoids blame or the 'quick fix'

'A key finding for future project work has been the issue of engagement by employees at all levels of the organisation for change to be effective and 'owned'. Thus superficial attempts which do not reach the endemic values and culture of the organisation are unlikely to succeed...'

A PDF of the study is available here:

Matters Concerning Members of the Governing Body - Conflicts of Interest

2.20 It is central to the proper conduct of public business that chairs and members of governing bodies should act and be perceived to act impartially, and not be influenced in their role as governors by social or business relationships. Good practice requires that a member of a governing body who has a pecuniary, family or other personal interest in any matter under discussion at any meeting of the governing body or one of its committees at which he/she is present shall, as soon as practicable, disclose the fact of his/her interest to the meeting and shall withdraw from that part of the meeting.

member of the governing body is not, however, considered to have a pecuniary interest in matters under discussion merely because he/she is a member of staff or a student of the institution. Nor does the restriction of involvement in matters of direct personal or pecuniary interest prevent members of the governing body from considering and voting on proposals to insure the governing body against liabilities which it might incur.

2.21 Institutions should maintain a register of interests of all members of the
governing body. The secretary and any other senior officer closely associated with the work of the governing body, for example the finance director, should also submit details of any interests. The register should be publicly available and should be kept up-to-date.

2.22 Details of the terms of appointment should be set out as appropriate in the
letter of appointment, but institutions may wish to seek a signed undertaking that governors will act responsibly.

2.23 The governing body should have the power to remove any member of the
governing body from office, and must do so if the member breaches the conditions of his/her appointment.

From: Guide for Members of Higher Education Governing Bodies in the UK, November 2004/40

July 05, 2007

The well-placed lie...

...One of the most insidious forms of academic violence is the generation and transmission of rumours. We know from Ekman's (1985) research that the liars who are difficult to detect are those who can anticipate when they will have to lie, who will not be severely punished if caught, whose lies are sanctioned higher up in the system, who have successfully deceived the target before, who are practised in lying, and who have a good memory.

There is often an element of ambiguity to very skillful lies (Rosnow, 1991), making it difficult to receive disconfirming input. Disconfirmation may not even be sought, since we seem to have a tendency to want to believe the worst of people—a negativity bias (Amabile & Glazebrook, 1982) —and "to want to spit in god's eye" (J. Letvin, personal communication, 1976) — especially, perhaps, if they are above us in rank or status. Rumours and other lies are likely to be believed, and passed on to others, when the listeners are uncertain, are under stress, or are experiencing personal anxiety (Rosnow, 1991) — a situation that obtains for many faculty and students these days.

Aspects of the academic environment make it fertile soil for bumper crops of rumours and other lies. Unfortunately, students can also get caught up in the web of intrigue—as victims of coercion and of academic politics, but also as potential contributors to the violence, wittingly or unwittingly.

For a number of reasons, rumours are particularly difficult to dispel:

  • For instance, the target of the rumour may not even be aware of the circulation of lies about them; they may only have noticed that people are treating them differently.

  • If the target becomes aware of the lies and tries to correct the misperceptions or misinformation, they are less likely to be believed (a) because they may be perceived as being "defensive" (à la perceptions of Shakespeare's Lady Macbeth: "methinks the Lady doth protest too much") and (b) because primacy is more powerful in communication effectiveness than is recency (discussed in Markus & Zajonc, 1985).

  • Even otherwise very intelligent people tend to believe that "where there's smoke, there's fire"; the possibility that both the smoke and the fire may have been caused by an arsonist—a psychological arsonist—seems rarely to spring to mind.
Taken together, these factors may render impossible any due process or achievement of social justice for the victim.

The generation and transmission of rumours is difficult to curb: like the unethical passing on of confidential information "confidentially", the transmission makes both the bearer of the tale and the recipient of the misinformation "important". Yet, left unchecked—and thereby condoned—rumours can lead to very destructive consequences for the target of this violence, the recent suicide of a McGill psychologist being a case in point (Fox, 1994). When left unchecked, the character assassination can create a climate in which two additional circumstances may obtain:
  • The victim can achieve pariah status; vulnerable others, afraid of being "tarred with the same brush", may avoid being linked to or associated with the victim, thereby isolating the victim and leaving them bereft of support.

  • Unscrupulous others, bent on revenge, can "justify" to themselves further violence, thereby escalating the irreversible damage.
The generation and transmission of rumours is unethical (Stark[-Adamec] & Pettifor, 1995); failure to curb rumour-mongering is also unethical; even listening to rumours condones the violence and could therefore be considered unethical. The generation, transmission, and failure to curb rumours is so prevalent in academic work environments that one may feel pressed to choose between two unattractive explanations: that academics do not realize the gravity of the situation and the unethical nature of these acts; or that they do realize that such behaviour is wrong and, like true sociopaths, persist in wrongdoing anyway...

From: Psychological violence in academia, University of Regina

July 03, 2007

How a union official reacted to a member who asked for no more legal assistance from the union


Thank you for informing me of your decision and I note also the email which you have sent to XXXX XXXX
[the union lawyer employed by a major legal company], copied to me, informing her.

I will write to XXXX to ask them to return all papers to you as soon as possible so that you can pass these to your new adviser.

As you have taken your decision it is not really appropriate for me to enter into lengthy discussion with you. I note what you say and your disappointment with what the union and our lawyers have been able to do for you has been evident for some time. However, much of the problem has been beyond our control:

* You joined AUT at a time when we were not a recognised union at CIA, had no branch and no local rep. [This is not what AUT stated on their web page]

* You had a conflict of interest with a NATFHE member, so that the local NATFHE and the regional office in Gateshead were involved in assisting that member. [Contrary to what AUT stated on their web page]

* As a result, even following the merger of AUT and NATFHE, UCU is still unable to provide you with an experienced local union rep or full time official support from the regional office in Gateshead which now covers XXXX. [So why pay membership fees?]

* In these circumstances, I have tried to provide as much support as possible through XXXX in Newcastle.

I understand how, in these difficult circumstances, you would feel disappointed with the type of service we have been able to offer. I wish you well with the hearings ahead and success and good health in the future.

With best wishes,
And thus one more member became disillusioned... and wrote to Roger Kline and Paul Mackney:

"...I have been in touch with my AUT branch in Edinburgh (XXXX XXXX) – for some months now - who referred me to an Employment Law firm in Newcastle. David has tried to be helpful and has authorised funds for the lawyer to advise me. I understand that AUT has no rep in my town and XXXX – despite his support and good will - was unable to offer any other assistance. XXXX told me that AUT does not have a specialist consultant on workplace bullying, and I have found this very disturbing. Is this the case with UCU as a whole? It would be hard to accept that UCU does not have access to a specialist on workplace bullying. Academics are suffering in big numbers, let alone support staff. The evidence is not just anecdotal. I can refer you to numerous surveys and reports, including some from teaching unions, which confirm this disturbing trend.

The union lawyer has been helpful whenever I manage to get in touch with her. Over the last four months, I was able to meet with her twice. She has often told me that my union rep should take up day-to-day issues relating to my case, and ideally, the lawyer should look after the big picture.

Bottom line is that I have no regular support from my union, and I am fighting alone my case of institutionalized workplace bullying against my senior managers. I often have to make decisions on a weekly basis, but there is no assistance beyond a possible reply through email or a phone call. This is while I am dealing with symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress caused by workplace bullying during the last few years at XXXX. I often have to refer to a legal advice phone line provided by my union. The usual waiting time is 2-3 hours during working hours. They try to be helpful but they usually refer me back to my union lawyer. There does not seem to be anybody available or qualified to deal with this case of workplace bullying.

The costs of workplace bullying not just to the union members and victims (targets), but also to our profession collectively must be phenomenal. The impact on our health has possibly never been estimated. Until this thing happened to me, I could only think of it as impossible. Now I live a nightmare. This is not just a general plea. I have some questions to ask. I seek assistance and justice.

• Does UCU have access to a specialist in workplace bullying? If not, when can I have access to one?
• It is not sufficient for Higher Education Institutions to have anti-bullying policies that are worth nothing. How is our union keeping accountable these institutions in terms of how they are applying their policies? Do all employees run awareness sessions and workshops open to staff? How often?
• Does our union have a programme of training reps and other appropriate union members, to recognize and deal effectively with workplace bullying? How is our union proactive in dealing with workplace bullying in our profession?..."

No reply was received.

Utterly Completely Useless - Part 2

Dear Sally (UCU leader), Jenny (regional UCU official) and Hamish (UCU legal official),

I am writing to each of you today to ask for your assistance in seeking justice in a matter that I believe has important implications for all UCU members.

As you may already know, I have fallen victim to acts of criminal witness intimidation, in violation of the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001, at the hands of Mr Donald Beaton, University Secretary of Kingston University, and have more recently learned that Prof Peter Scott, Vice-Chancellor of the University in all likelihood, ordered Mr Beaton to commit these rather serious and troubling acts on his behalf.

All evidence points to guilt on the part of these individuals, who are, quite shockingly, members of senior management, however, unfortunately, a number of events have prevented them from being held to account for their actions. Moreover, they/the University have not denied that these individuals have committed the acts in question, as there is, in my view, rather compelling documentary evidence to support a conviction on these charges.

The only justification or explanation that has thus far been offered by the University's lawyers, who have represented Mr Beaton following his indictment by the Magistrates' Court on 20 April 2007, is that while the acts in question, if committed in connection with a civil or criminal matter in a wide range of "relevant proceedings" (e.g. County Court, High Court, Crown Court, Magistrates' Court, etc) would be illegal, the Act does not explicitly list Employment Tribunal proceedings under the set of "relevant proceedings" for the purposes of the Act. In other words, according to the University's solicitors, committing witness intimidation in connection with ongoing Employment Tribunal proceedings, does not amount to a criminal act because Employment Tribunal proceedings are not "relevant proceedings."

The effect of this view, if it were to be upheld as a matter of law, is to create an "open season" on claimants and respondents alike with respect to such proceedings, as in effect, witness intimidation would become legal in Employment Tribunal cases.

What has since transpired is that a hearing was held on 10 May 2007 before a District Judge, Hon. Stephen Day. Judge Day wisely ruled that the case should be continued in anticipation of the possibility that the matter would be taken up by the CPS for prosecution. He also ruled that were the CPS to take the case and were they to then decide to drop it for any reason, my wife and I could take the case back as a private prosecution, which is how it was launched in the first instance.

This week, the CPS notified us that they had, indeed, decided to take on the case, but that they had decided to drop the matter altogether on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence, since, in their view, Employment Tribunal proceedings did not constitute "relevant proceedings" for the purposes of the Act. To my surprise and dismay, I learned today at a hearing before the Court, that we would not simply be able to take the matter back to continue it as a private prosecution, but that it would be formally ended.

As I understand things, our only viable option would be to refile the matter as a private prosecution before the County Court. In discussing our options with my Branch Rep, (Name deleted) who so kindly attended today's court proceedings and who was extremely supportive of my efforts to seek justice in this rather extraordinary matter, (name deleted) felt that one possibility would be to file a petition with the County Court for a District Judge to hear arguments as to why Employment Tribunals should, as a matter of law, be considered to be "relevant proceedings" for the purposes of the act, notwithstanding the fact that such proceedings are not explicitly referenced, on the grounds that Parliament must surely have intended for witness intimidation to be a crime for such in such a clearly bona fide civil proceeding as an Employment Tribunal case, and that it could not possibly have been their intention for witness intimidation to, in effect, be legal in such proceedings. Following a positive ruling on that, he suggested that we could then launch a private prosecution on the matter, having already achieved a clear view on whether such proceedings constitute "relevant proceedings" in respect of the intentions of Parliament, and therefore as a matter of law. Thus we would file to separate actions in sequence, the first being to decide matters of law and the second to decide whether or not the facts then suggest that Mr Beaton and Prof Scott had, indeed, committed illegal acts as set forth in the allegations.

This seems to me like a reasonable set of steps, though given that the case is relatively simple and given that following (name deleted)'s suggested course of action would likely take more time to pursue, it might very well be that both steps could be accomplished in one case, namely a private prosecution, part of which could be devoted to first establishing the matters of law, and then the case could continue along to deal with matters of guilt or innocence.

In the end, I would certainly be open to either possibility as a course of action, but in all instances, I feel so strongly that a serious injustice has taken place, and that if allowed to stand, this case will set precedent in respect of any FE/HE employer (or employee) being able to resort to witness intimidation in Employment Tribunal cases with total impunity. That will mean that witnesses in such cases will feel reluctant to come forward and that important and compelling evidence, (such as that which Kingston University has attempted to suppress), of wrongdoing will be prevented from seeing the light of day, thereby depriving UCU members of their right to have their concerns properly aired before a Court of Law.

I am therefore asking each of you to consider seriously the matters at stake in this case in respect of their potential and likely impacts on all UCU members now and in the future. And I am asking that you take appropriate action to support me in pursuing this case further in the Courts so that the rights of UCU members to be free from intimidation in Employment Tribunal cases is preserved.

Specifically, I am taking the unusual step of formally requesting legal support and or any other support that UCU can provide so that this matter can be taken forward, since there will, indeed, be costs (albeit, hopefully not excessive costs) involved in pursuing this matter vigorously. I do realize that such support is not normally provided as part of UCU's Legal Assistance Scheme, and I am not specifically requesting such support under this scheme. Rather, I am asking that UCU consider providing support under whatever auspices it feels are appropriate under the circumstances.

Again, I believe this to be an unusual and important case, one that is worthy of being supported by UCU on behalf of all of its members, and so I therefore urge you to support my efforts. I look forward to your prompt written response to my request for support and to receiving whatever support you feel that UCU can offer.

Please feel free, as well, to forward my letter to any other UCU officials whom you think would need to see such a request for support so that it can be duly considered. I would also urge you to speak with (Branch Rep), who has seen the relevant evidence in this case, in order to gain directly his valuable insights on the matter.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely, Dr Howard Fredrics, UCU Member.
Letter written on 22 June 2007. To date, Dr Howard has not received a reply.

July 02, 2007

Complaint against Michael Scott, Universities and Colleges Union Solicitor

20th February 2007,

Dear Ms Hunt/Mr Mckney, [UCU leadership]

As Michael Scott’s [senior solicitor] employer I would like you to investigate my complaint against the Union solicitor and his failure in the provision of legal services to me on behalf of NATFHE (now the UCU) before I take up the matter formally with the Law Society. My complaint against Michael Scott is as follows:

Michael Scott as Union solicitor breached the conflict of interest rules of the Law Society. He revealed in the London Tribunal that he was NATFHE’s budget holder and ultimate decision maker in regard to the provision of legal services and so there was a conflict of interest in M. Scott assessing the merits of Dr D’Silva’s racial discrimination claim in which he claimed had no merit. M. Scott in the London tribunal could not explain why he had removed Waquar Ahmed an ethnic minority comparator who was also being discriminated by Professor Leach from his race relations questionnaires except I infer to undermine his claim to show that the difference in treatment was based on race M. Scott to justify his perverse decision on the 13th March 2003 cited Cornelius [1987] and the Khan case [2000] and again on the 22 July 2003 knowing that the Race Amendment Act 2002 rendered these cases obsolete as one could not preserve one’s position by denying the applicant a grievance.

He also did not afford the applicant advice to progress his issues that having claimed racial discrimination his employer had not addressed his complaint which was a BREACH OF THE RACE RELATIONS ACT. This was a breach of his professional service and CONDUCT TO SAFEGUARD THE CLIENTS INTERESTS.

M. Scott again on 15th Sept 2003, part way through Dr D’Silva tribunal case when he requested legal assistance undermined the applicant’s request. He claimed he had given the correct advice in his request for legal assistance even after being reminded of the Race Amendment Act 2000. This case law used to deny him merits as stated were rendered obsolete by the Race Amendment Act 2000 and acknowledged as such by the finding of the London Tribunal, 2006 which stated “it was a concoction”. There was a conflict of interest in M. Scott giving advice being the fund holder for legal aid which resulted in his advice always being legally flawed. M. Scott was also hostile to the claimant for not going down the ADR route rather than the legal route but could not justify his advice when questioned why. M. Scott informed the Tribunal he had been on courses updating him on changes in the law so knew what he was doing.

M. Scott knew NATHFE’s procedures for the processing of legal aid applications by the local branch that documents would not be sent by the local branch to Head office unless they were complete. He claimed he was copied documents from the local office including his letter of the 21st Jan 2004 which was the remainder of his complete legal application form but however decided to undermine the applicants legal aid application and his position with other NEC officials by claiming that the applicant had not complied with its procedures and that he had not received a signed legal aid form to deny him legal services.

It was NATFHE’s local office’s duty to send the signed legal aid form to M.Scott office any losses of the form in transit to NATFHE’s head office was the local offices responsibility not the applicants. It was NATFHE’s Head office and its local branch’s responsibility to process Dr D’Silva’s legal aid application form in a professional manner. He failed to enquire why the local branch had not sent the form or whether the legal office had lost the form despite receiving the accompanying documents or immediately send him a new form.

The local branch confirmed in the Tribunal that they had received the form and duly processed it according to their procedures. Neither less he failed to provide Dr D’Silva a professional service and waited until the 8th July 2004 almost six months latter to send him a new legal services form knowing that only the local and Head office could provide him the forms which was a breach of his duty of care. He also did not take on board the applicants statements in regard to there being a conflict of interest which there was.

M. Scott realising that Dr D’Silva had determined that he was undermining his request for legal services having contacted the CRE about his conduct then used the pretext of the late delivery of documents to deny him legal services. On the 5th Aug 2004 he requested the applicant provide the agreed trial bundle by next week or on his return from holiday taken on the 16th August 2004. Five days latter quicker than Royal Mail parcel post in a letter dated the 10th Aug 2004 he denied the claimant legal services stating he was in breach of clause 6.2.

He again failed to provide an adequate professional service and it took the threat of a race discrimination claim and a meeting with NEC officers at the claimant’s own expense to re-instate legal services. He again failed to provide him an adequate professional service as union solicitor and member of the Law Society.

M. Scott in his instruction to Nick Toms failed to obtain a fee note for his services but he also had not agreed a fee which he informed those present in the employment tribunal. He denied Dr D’Silva Counsel of the applicant’s choice claiming they were too expensive whilst he paid over £3000 in fees for a Counsel he wanted to provide the applicant with the merits that he wanted him to have which was in breach of the Union’s legal scheme. The claimant’s own counsel informed him he would win his claims in regard to promotion and the events in the Tribunal resulted in him winning the remainder. He again failed to provide me an adequate professional service as union solicitor and member of the Law Society. This was a breach of professional conduct.

M. Scott gave incorrect legal advice when he again sited the Khan case in conference with Nick Toms in 2004 knowing such advice was rendered obsolete as a result of the race amendment act and so undermined the merits of Dr D’Silva’s case and denied him legal representation at his case management hearing. M.Scott denied the applicant the written merits of his case from counsel. It again took the intervention of the CRE to get M. Scott to instruct N. Toms to provide the merits of his claim. This was unprofessional and a breach of confidence and trust and he again failed to recluse himself from the applicant’s case as their had been hostility and continued hostility against the claimant for pursuing his case and not pursuing the ADR route..

M. Scott when informed that there was a breach in confidence and trust on showing him that his legal advice was flawed and was aimed at undermining the applicants claims, but did not recluse himself from the decision process regarding legal services and further undermined the applicant’s claim and denied him legal services in 2005. He again failed to provide him adequate and an impartial professional service as union solicitor and member of the Law Society.

On the 31 March 2005 the claimant requested a review of his NATFHE’s decision (M. Scott’s decision) to deny him legal services. On the 8th April 2005 Paul Mackney provided his reply. The reply was written by M. Scott and this was in breach of the conflict of interest rules of the law society. He again failed to provide the claimant an adequate professional service as union solicitor and member of the Law Society.

M. Scott knew that their was a conflict of interest in his handling of the applicant’s legal services and as a result on the 6th July 2006 the last day of the applicant’s tribunal case against NATFHE informed him of his solicitor’s department perverse interpretation of the solicitor’s conflict of interest rule by providing its new legal scheme to deny members who questioned his perverse advice by claiming they were now in conflict with the Union and in breach of legal services. The failure to disclose the change in the Union legal Scheme in regard to the conflict of interest during the Tribunal case in July 2006 was unprofessional and a further attempt to add injury to feeling and cause the applicant detriment. He again failed to provide the claimant an adequate professional service as union solicitor and member of the Law Society.

I would like your speedy decision on my complaint so I can progress this matter to the Law Society for their adjudication.

Yours Sincerely, Claudius D’Silva.
UCU Reply: The complaint exceeds the three month time-limit for submitting a complaint.

If the academic union behaves like this, no wonder employers can get away with anything.

July 01, 2007

Survey shows bad manners affect people's work

A rude boss makes workers less productive, according to a new study of Kiwi companies. The survey by an Australian researcher also found New Zealand to be a nation of bad-mannered bores. Dr Barbara Griffin, of the University of Western Sydney, has found one in five of us experiences boorishness at work at least once a month.

At the first Asia Pacific Congress on Work and Organisational Psychology held in Adelaide, Griffin said rude behaviour was more subtle than bullying. Although some were unaware of their bad manners, others were "deliberately and purposefully" rude. Examples included ignoring emails, making derogatory comments about a workmate, gossiping, texting during a conversation, and interrupting people.

One Wellington woman, who asked not to be named, told the Herald on Sunday she suffered sleepless nights over workplace rudeness during several years in the communications industry.

One colleague constantly and loudly derided her work to others, another yelled across her workroom to get attention, and another always questioned her judgement. Griffin said such undermining was common and often had a flow-on effect through an organisation.

"Even the occasional rude remark can have a big impact. And that can range from lack of commitment and low productivity to high staff turnover." Ironically bosses who figured highly in studies on bullying were less likely than their subordinates to be bad mannered, Griffin said.

And it was younger workers who experienced the most incidents of rudeness. The study surveyed more than 54,000 employees.