Manchester Metropolitan University, Dame Sandra Burslem & Senior Management - Trbunal's Findings of Institutionalised discrimination

Findings of the Manchester Employment Tribunal

The Tribunal noted the following failings of the University  Equal Opportunities Policy.

"no reference in the race equality plan to a duty of outcome in relation to retaining information where complaints of racial discrimination and harassment have been made'.

The Tribunal noted the following failings in regard to the RRA 1976 (Statutory Duties) Order 2001 Schedule 1A.

Monitor by reference to racial groups

"....the recruitment and career progress of staff"

publish annually the results of its assessment and monitoring of the career progression of staff.  Arrangements to fulfill these duties were required before 31st May 2002 or soon  thereafter. 

Code of Practice of Recruitment & Selection did not apply to Professoriate Committee.  pg 52 

Dame Alexander Burslem -Vice Chancellor, said in evidence:

'It is not uncommon for people from minority ethnic groups to see the world through a prism and feel that everything which happens to them is because they are black and are being discriminated against'

Finding against Dame Alexander Burslem.

The tribunal considered the manner the VC approached the grievance of the Claimant on the 12th Dec was less favourable treatment insofar as she had said in evidence that she felt that the claimant was 'going through the motions'  pg.73.

The tribunal found that the respondent had discriminated against the claimant insofar as the VC in the course of his grievance failed to investigate or seek to bring about a 'distinctive improvement' in the claimant's relationship with Professor Leach. pg 40



   Mr Bill Hallam

 The tribunal finding against B.Hallam

The failure of Mr Bill Hallam to treat the Claimants complaints of racial harassment contained in a letter dated 6.11.02 as such and the consequent failure by Bill Hallam to investigate and reach a finding as to whether Professor Barry Plumb and Professor Leach had harassed the claimant on the grounds of his race

      Professor Norman Allen

 Research Coordinator Materials Unit of Assessment 

After RAE  2009,  was severed from the University.

 Prof John Leach (retired 8/2006)

The tribunal finding, letter sent by J.Leach to the Dr.D' 32

The tribunal noted the definition of harassment within the respondent's Bullying and Harrassment Procedures which was as follows:

'Any unwanted behaviour that is shown towards an individual what has the impact of making that individual feel- their dignity has been violated, it has created an intimidating , hostile, degrading , humiliating or offensive environment.'

This letter in the circumstances in which it was written satisfied this definition. 

Appointments to Readership, Professorship and Principal Lecturer

Adminstrative roles were not only a requirement of the contract of employment but  a relevant criterion in determining staff's appointments to Readership, Professorship and Principal Lecturer.  Although Professor Leach in his evidence said the claimant had never volunteered, the tribunal considered the system was not entirely wherby staff volunteered. pg23

'The fact that the claimant did not perform administrative duties was a result of a decision by Professor Leach.' pg.24 .

Prof Barry Plumb, Pro-Vice Chancellor, Academic Director



                                      Professor M.Neal, Dean Faculty of Sci & Eng

Counsel, Mr Peter Gilroy. QC. Part time Chairman of the Birmingham Tribunal, Head of the Northern League  of Lawyers.  Member of the Manchester Tribunal Board of Governors.

Noted for his underhanded tactiics  by  ethnic minorities   

Dr JB llangaratine vs BMA. EAT/1025/01/ZT, affidavits submitted by doctors  of apparent bias.




L. Williams vs MMU

(settled out of Court, Left Univ)   

 J.Reika vs MMU

(settled out of Court)

 L.Gayle vs MMU (settled out of court 2005, Left Univ). 

 A. Rahman vs MMU 

(settled out of court 2006, Left Univ)

 C.Williams vs MMU (settled out of court 2007, Left Univ)

 J.Reika vs MMU 

ET Tribunal claim( 2008)


H.Tian's discriminatory treatment by Prof. Causon & Prof. M.Neal (2006) 


UNISON Branch Secretary Delroy Cleary and Co-opted member of the Board of Governors at MMU under attack for raising dicriminatory regime in circular to members (2007)

Manchester ET  condemns Institutionally Racist culture at MMU

Institutionalised racial discrimination is defined in the Stephen Lawrence report in a variety of ways one being as follows:

"The term institutional racism should be understood to refer to the way institutions may systematically treat or tend to treat people differently in respect of race. The addition of the word 'institutional' therefore identifies the source of the differential treatment; this lies in some sense within the organisation rather than simply with the individuals who represent it.  The production of differential treatment is 'institutionalised' in the way the organisation operates".  Para 2.2).

On the 24th April 2005 the Times Higher Education Supplement  in an article titled “ MMU denies Racism claim” reported on Manchester Metropolitan’s University’s continuing abuse of its ethnic minority members, and the view of the union, UNISON that  it was institutionally racist  and its race policies lip service MMUArticle.pdf.  The Vice Chancellor, Dame Sandra Burslem, the following week, in a letter to the THES editor  strongly rebuked the Union for its comments press.jpg.

However on the 6th June 2005, the Manchester Employment Tribunal gave an unprecedented  decision in legal history in the case of  Dr. C. D’Silva vs Manchester Metropolitan University (Case no: 2409906/03-2404779/04) and found the Vice-Chancellor Dame Sandra Burslem, Professor Barry Plumb Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor John Leach, Head of the Department of Chemistry, Professor Maureen O’Neal Pro-Vice Chancellor, Mr Bill Hallam Human Resources Director,  Mr. Peter Gibb Employee Relations Manager and  Dr. Julia Dickinson Principal Lecturer in Chemistry guilty of racial discrimination in the absence of  Dr D’Silva  or his witnesses giving evidence to shift the burden of proof  MMUJudge.pdf.  The claimant at this time was on three month's extended psychiatric leave  due to his  harassment by the University’s  management  prior to and after his case.    The fact that the respondent Manchester Metroploitan University a flagship of the racial Equality Challenge Unit and CRE,  identified as exmplar in race discrimination makes the victory extremely significant.

On his return to work later in 2005, Dr  D’Silva was again forced  to file two new claims in  the Employment Tribunal which were to be heard on filling of  the extended reasons of his judgement  MMUJudgeR.pdf.   However on supplying the extended reasons the respondents decided to appeal the judgment on the grounds of perversity.

Background                                                                                                                                                The claimant, Dr D’Silva, joined MMU as a senior lecturer in the academic year 1993-4, bringing with him a generous research grant from the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC).  He was led to believe by the head of department, Professor John Leach, that he would be provided time for research and facilities consistent with an established University Department.  Nonetheless, Prof. Leach gave Dr D’Silva a heavy teaching timetable of 18 hours per week and laboratory classes of up to 30 students rather than the pre-requisite maximum of 15 students per member of staff due to the health and safety implications and stress.  His own facilities for research were negligible and the postdoc that he was supervising was allocated half a bench in the laboratory, unlike the more generous space and facilities allocated by Professor Leach to his jointly supervised, University-funded undergraduate students. 

The Response

Professor Leach refused to address Dr D’Silva’s above  issues and those of  racial discrimination raised in his Performance Development Review (PDR) but bullied him, trying to undermine  his self-esteem using univestigated comments  from  students and hearsay from other members of staff.    

In  April 2001 Dr D’Silva raised again his ongoing  issues with his  Head of Department and his then racial  harrassment by the  Departmental Research Coordinator of the 2001 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) , Professor Norman Allen who informed him he was going to end his research  career unless he worked for him (‘shined his shoes’).  The  Head of Department refused to investigate Dr D’Silva’s complaint of harassment and  informed him he would ‘teach him a lesson’ for requesting he do his duty in regard to this matter, which was seen by the ET to be an act of racial incitement. 


A  month later in August 2001,  Dr D’Silva found himself  the subject of a performance investigation initiated by Professor Leach supported by  Personnel for failing to accept a joint studentship with the then Research Coordinator, his racial harasser.     This was the University’s first attempt to undermine his claim of racial discrimination & harrassment. 


Then,  Professor Leach and Human Resources canvased two sets of  teaching complaints against him and  witheld documents about his Ministry of Defence (MOD) grant to create further performance issues to discredit him.    In a  meeting with Professor Leach, Derek Cowley (Human Resorces) and a NATHFE representative, Dr D’Silva was informed that he had been removed from the RAE 2001 exercise which he saw at that time to be a deliberate attempt to undermine his career and chances of promotion to Reader or Professor as publications submitted to the RAE 2001 exercise were  part of the promotion criteria.  He latter found out that the University had misrepresented his researcch funds and studentships in the Universities 2001 Research submission.


In 2001 Dr D’Silva & Dr Waquar Ahmed (Asian) from the same Department now Professor  both  applied for Readership and/or Professorship. On surprisingly finding that both he and Dr Ahmed with more than 60 refereed papers and a greater number of conference papers did not obtain a Readership or Professorship, Dr D’Silva realised  that he had  been discriminated against.  The benchmark for Readership and Professorship was about a dozen papers and it had been accepted that they were in low impact Journals. 


The Union and the CRE

On contacting his local NATFHE branch for assistance now UCU on all his matters Dr D’Silva was directed to the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) for assistance .  The CRE helped him file a Tribunal claim in September 2002 against MMU which was to be heard in September 2003 in regard to all the above issues.  NATFHE’s Senior solicitor Michael Scott advised him to  file a grievance against Professor Leach with the Head of Human Resources, Mr Bill Hallam.   But Mr Hallam denied him a grievance in breach of the Race Amendment Act 2002.  However NATFHE’s Senior solicitor cited  irrelevant  case law and defended the University’s position to deny him  merits for his claim and  legal assistance in breach of the Unions duty of care.  In fact the University did not take the same position to defend their claim.


The Employment Tribunal 2003

In desperation Dr D’Silva engaged a  race discrimination  barrister  to  pursue his case due to the University’s threats of costs against him if he were to seek an adjournment.  The case against Manchester Metropolitan, John Leach (Head of Department ) and Profesor Norman Allen (Research coordinator) was part-heard.  The Pro-Vice Chancellor’s,  Mr Barry Plumb's conduct was commented on two occasions by the Chairman that (a) he had breached the Race Relations Act  1976  and (b) the  Race  Amendment Act 2002 in regard to harassment of Dr D’Silva.


Withdrawal Agreement

The respondents knew they were to find themselves in difficulty when they took the stand.  During lunch, the University's barrister and Dr D'Silva's own barrister colluded and used the Unfounded threat of costs to compel Dr D'Silva to withdraw his case.   Dr D’Silva, on re-assurances that he was being given sound legal advice, was reasonable and signed a ‘no recriminations’ withdrawal agreement and withdrew his case giving the University the opportunity to save face and  address his complaints informally via their own  grievance procedure. 


Withdrawal Terms Broken … and the Glass Ceiling

Less than  eight days after withdrawl of the tribunal claim Mr Pete Gibb, of Human Resources on behalf of  the University  broke the terms of the withdrawal. They tried to remove Dr D’Silva from lecturing on the core timetable and pursued the withdrawn  complaints to discredit him.  They refused to  address his grievances impartially and the Vice Chancellor refused to accept the involvement of  ACAS  on a grievance panel and again discriminated against him in regard to promotion so he had to file four new  employment tribunal claims between 2003-2004.   In 2004 the University in view of the revelations in Dr D’Silva’s 2003 case finally  broke the glass ceiling and appointed an Asian lecturer to Principal Lecturer and  Dr. Ahmed (Asian) and Dr Bander (Iraqi)  to Reader in 2004.  Dr Ahmed was  denied  a Professorship by the Head of Department  so in 2006 he accepted a Professorship at a 5 * University (Ulster) and left the Department.  


"The Tribunal made findings in relations to these matters bellow.  For the present it is sufficient to note that the information available on the racial composition of staff and progression of staff analysed in terms of racial composition changed from the date the claimant served the Questionnaire in December 2003 to August 2004 and the date of the hearing of this case in May 2005. (pg17)."


 However they did not address his complaints in regard to Breaches of the Academic Board by manipulation of Exam marks & Health & Safety raised with Professor Barry Plumb and Dame Sandra Burslem.  It would take another 4 years for another academic member Mr Walter Cairns to whistleblow the issue to a Parlimentary Committee in 2009.



Employment Tribunal 2005

A month before the hearing of his case in April 2005 as a result of  further  harassment by the University’s management,  Dr D’Silva became ill and went on  three months psychiatric sick leave.  The Tribunal refused him an adjournment of his month long case and it proceeded in his absence without him or his four witnesses giving evidence or a referenced witness statement being used.  All four of his witnesses had suffered detriment by the University and  three had ongoing cases of racial discrimination against the University.  A third  member of the same Department, had also received less favourable treatment.  On the 6th June 2005, the Manchester Tribunal  (see above), found the  Senior members of the University  guilty as charged of racial discrimination.   


The above judgement was some vindication in regard to the University’s treatment of Dr. D’Silva and all its ethnic minorities in the Chemistry & Materials Department.   However this was little compensation  for the significant expenditure of his own professional time, damage to health, research, self-esteem  and his personal life, and the financial resources that he spent to obtain justice.  However, the University via further legal actions delayed the publication of his Judgement until April 2006 to punish him financially.   They  then used the pretext of the unavailability of their counsel on two occassions to undermine the remedies hearing and in Sept 2006  they informed the O'Hara tribunal of their  decision the appeal the judgement on the grounds perversity. 


Due to the harassment suffered by Dr D’Silva in 2005 prior to his case,  Dr D’Silva  filed a  new claim on his return to work in  late 2005 in regard to discrimination, harassment  and victimisation.  


Change in the Attitude of Senior Management?

That year Professor John Leach, the Vice Chancellor, Dame Sandra Burslem, and Tom Booth the Head of the Board of Governors all retired.   Dr. Julia Dickinson and the Research Coordinator, Professor Norman Allen  were moved out of the Department of Chemistry & Materials.  Bill Hallam in 2007 the respondent in Colin Williams case died of the cancer he had been fighting, a few weeks before the hearing at the Leeds tribunal.


The new Chairman of the Board of Governors, Mr Benzie and Vice Chancellor. Professor John Brooks appointed in 2005/2006, despite not being involved in any of the acts of discrimination  refused to hear Dr D’Silva’s grievances in breach of the statutory grievance  procedure against those who racially discriminated and harassed him and refused to take any action against those found guilty so he has had to  file a new case against the University in 2006.  Professor Brooks was shortly  appointed to the Board of the Equality Challenge Unit (UCU) a Government Quango headed by Dame Janet Finch, Chairman (a member of MMU's Board of Governors which .


Outcomes of other Racial Discrimination Cases at MMU

J. Reika & C. Williams’ race discrimination cases,  the latter containing overt racial discrimination and victimisation like Dr D’Silva’s  were ongoing with the University refusing to deal with their grievances impartially and both  being forced to seek re-dress via the tribunal system.  A week before his case was to be heard in the Leeds tribunal on the 25th June 2007 , Colin William under pressure from UNISON settled his case with the University and retired early.  J. Reika's case continued with his appeal  being heard by the Board of Governors.


Dr D’Silva continues to seek justice whilst  the University continues to discriminate against him and his research students.  The UCU’s senior officials continue to deny him access to any legal assistance via legal aid  clause 5.6 for exposing their conduct in how they undermined their  members’ cases (Cafas 51). 


HHJ Peter Clarke (when he was in practice was found negligent)  was subjet of complaints of appearance of bias from many victims of ethnic minorties, referred Dr D'Silva's case back to the Tribunalo a rehearing limited to to a single point but did not order de nova hearing which means findings of facts remain intact.  An Employment Judge O'Hara who is not placed is permanant job at Manchester, did not upheld Dr D'Silva's complaint and now he has appealed her decision in the EAT.