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The National (Scotland)
The National (Scotland)
Lucy Garcia

Scottish professor's career ‘effectively ended after sacking over Israel comments’

A SCOTTISH professor's career lay in tatters after he was sacked over comments he made about Israel, an employment tribunal has heard.

Professor David Miller claimed the University of Bristol dismissed him because senior managers believed he would not adhere to lesser disciplinary action, such as a warning.

He was sacked as a professor of political sociology for gross misconduct by the institution in October 2021 after a disciplinary hearing found he “did not meet the standards of behaviour” expected of university staff.

Miller has launched employment tribunal proceedings, claiming unfair dismissal, breach of contract and discrimination or victimisation on grounds of religion or belief.

The tribunal could become a test case as he argues his anti-Zionist stance is a protected philosophical belief under the Equalities Act.

Miller said the dismissal overseen by Professor Jane Norman had ended his academic career and claimed she could have issued him with a warning which would have allowed him to find another job but did not “because of a belief that I would not abide by the terms of a warning”.

“The university dismissing me has effectively ended my career in academia,” Miller told the hearing.

“I can never get a job at another university because of what she refuses to say here – that I am an antisemite.

“If I had been given a warning it would have been possible for me to get another job and I would have been out of the University of Bristol’s hair, and we wouldn’t be here.”

Miller said there was “pressure” from university donors and alumni to get him sacked.

During cross-examination, Prof Miller was asked whether he “accepted any responsibility” for the impact upon others of his public statements.

He replied: “The effect my statements had is what is in dispute. What you want me to do is say I was responsible, of course I don’t accept that, this is silly.”

The hearing in Bristol has previously heard Miller claim the university failed to defend him from being “attacked and defamed” over his views on Israel.

He claimed “Zionist organisations” had targeted UK universities through a “censorship campaign” and were attacking “academic freedom”.

Miller drew controversy during a lecture at the university in 2019, when he said the Zionist movement was one of five pillars driving Islamophobia in the UK, the tribunal heard.

The University of Bristol subsequently received a complaint from the Community Security Trust charity, which said his lecture was a “false, vile… antisemitic slur”.

After an investigation of the complaint no further action was taken against him.

But further complaints were made to the university about him after he took part in an event called “Building the campaign for free speech” in February 2021, in which he spoke of being publicly criticised for his views on Palestine and Israel.

This led to the launch of disciplinary proceedings that culminated in his dismissal in October 2021.

The hearing continues.

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