Oxford could face legal battle over racism

Tuesday July 24, 2001

Oxford University could face a legal battle with the Commission for Racial Equality after it failed to respond to questions over allegations that an Asian academic was racially discriminated against by the university.

As part of its normal practise when deciding whether to take up cases, the commission last month gave the university 21 days to respond to a questionairre concerning a researcher from the universityÍs centre for socio-legal studies. The researcher, who wishes not to be named, claims that he was racially discriminated against when he was forceably ejected from the centre last year.
Among other questions, the commission asked, on behalf of the researcher: “how a remark such as ‘dirty research work should be undertaken by Indians’ could have an innocent explanation.”

While the university is not legally obliged to meet the deadline for the questionairre, failure to do so often results in the commission providing full legal representation for the case. It has now been five weeks since the commission issued the questionairre. Officials at the university dealing with the case were unavailable for comment.

The university has been involved with three other court cases over allegations of racial discrimination. Dr Chinasa Anya claims that the university discriminated against him when appointing a post-doctoral research assistant in the department of materials. Ali Erdem, a postgraduate student from Turkey studying a DPhil in banking law, claims the university behaved inappropriately when they charged him for misconduct and dismissed him from his course. Another postgraduate student, Nadeem Ahmed, meanwhile claims that he was a victim of racial discrimination when he was asked to leave the university’s oriental institute in 1999 after being made to sit ïflawedÍ exams. Ahmed is being supported by Tom Paulin, the Irish poet and Oxford English don. But the universityÍs vice-chancellor has so far declined to meet Paulin to discuss the case. The university disputes all ther allegations.

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