September 22, 2011

Dr. Claudius D’Silva

As you know, we (UCU) protested in July against Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) management’s decision to dismiss our branch colleague Dr. Claudius D’Silva for taking a race discrimination case to the employment tribunal. We recognised the dismissal as a serious blow to justice and fair treatment in our workplace. Dr D’Silva, who has a significant and extensive academic profile, was a Senior Lecturer in Chemistry and Environmental Science at MMU from 1993 onward.

We called on the Board of Governors to demonstrate MMU’s commitment to fair employment practices and to reinstate Dr D’Silva to his previous position without loss of standing or earnings.

We also urged the Board of Governors in July to ensure that the university’s disciplinary procedure was not used to undermine the provisions of the Race Relations Act. We urged them to move to restore the good name of MMU in the field of race equality. We also urged the Board to investigate bullying and the use of ‘gross misconduct’ charges against employees at MMU.

We are deeply saddened to report that a panel of the Board of Governors confirmed the dismissal, stating that all was in order.

The university’s final decision poses a threat to all employees at MMU who exercise their employment rights and in particular those who choose to complain about race discrimination.

Judicial Review

We can report that Dr D’Silva is seeking a judicial review of MMU’s actions and that legal papers have now been served on the university. A judicial review provides a legal avenue to challenge violation of one’s rights by a public body.

The Administrative Courts have issued Dr D’Silva’s claim and the university is required to file acknowledgement of service of the notice and provide their summary grounds of defence with the Court by the end of the month. We hope and trust that the Court will grant Dr D’Silva permission to bring judicial proceedings.


Thank you to all those supporters who sent emails of concern and protest to the Board in July. It appears that those emails did not actually reach members of the Board (and this is a concern for the branch in terms of communication with the Board). Thank you to those supporters who protested outside the Board of Governors’ meeting. Thank you to those people who signed the online petition at calling for fair treatment and reinstatement of Dr D’Silva.

One moving statement on that online petition came from one of Dr D’Silva’s colleagues, Dr Gordon Nicholas, who also stood in protest outside the Board meeting on his final day at MMU before retirement. Dr Nicholas said: Claudius has been a valued Chemistry colleague of mine for many years. The decision to air-brush Claudius out of the RAE several years ago was vindictive, astonishing and short-sighted given his ability and reputation as a researcher. I understand that about one million pounds has been spent by the University in their legal battle with Claudius. I consider this to be a shocking misuse of precious financial resources – the result of gross incompetence by a management more interested in the closing of ranks than supporting an aggrieved member of staff. Effective handling of this affair could not only have saved a lot of money but also avoided the devastating impact that this case has had on the life of my colleague.

Professor Phil Scraton, criminologist of Queen’s University Belfast, wrote: It is a fundamental principle that those who believe that they have grounds to bring a case against an institution can do so without fear of reprisal. The Tribunal should be the place of decision and both sides, in agreeing to the process, should abide by its decision. If, as it appears, the institution punishes the complainant for taking the complaint it amounts to a gross infringement on their right to take a case. It also sends a severe message to others who might have a discrimination case. All efforts should be made to resolve this case and the institution should take the initiative and reinstate Dr D'Silva and allow external due process to decide on the case.

We continue to support Claudius – his career, health and livelihood should never have been so meanly attacked. We honour his determination and fortitude and we hope that he wins justice soon.

You can send a message of support to Claudius at

Walter Cairns, UCU Branch Chair, Manchester Metropolitan University


Anonymous said...

Yet another article blocked by THE:

Lecturers hit back at efforts to discredit grade-inflation claims

19 March 2009
By John Gill

Manchester Met says whistle-blowers' comments are 'an insult to the university', writes John Gill

Two lecturers who blew the whistle to a parliamentary committee about alleged grade inflation and dumbing down have reacted angrily to their university's moves to discredit their claims.

As Times Higher Education reported earlier this month, Walter Cairns and Susan Evans raised separate concerns about standards at their institution, Manchester Metropolitan University, in written evidence sent to the Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Select Committee, which is scrutinising universities and students.


Anonymous said...

With the present government in power, employers are feeling more empowered than ever and are more than happy to ignore employment rights, comforted by the knowledge that Judges will appease the government, thereby assuring their position as a Judge in the Employment Appeals Tribunal or Court of Appeals.