David Miller was wrongfully dismissed by Bristol University, tribunal rules

Miller’s ‘anti-Zionist beliefs qualified as a philosophical belief and a protected characteristic’ under the 2010 Equality Act

The Employment Tribunal between David Miller and Bristol University has today (5th February) ruled that Professor Miller was wrongfully dismissed in October 2021 and discriminated against because of his anti-Zionist beliefs.

In a 108-page judgment,  judge Rohan Pirani said Miller’s “anti-Zionist beliefs qualified as a philosophical belief and a protected characteristic” under the 2010 Equality Act.

The judge also concluded that Miller suffered “direct discrimination” from the university both when they decided to dismiss him and when they rejected his subsequent appeal.

Miller was also said to have been wrongfully dismissed when there was no payment of notice made to him, and the judge concluded that he was entitled to compensation.

The Employment Tribunal occurred following the termination of Professor Miller’s contract in October 2021 after he allegedly made comments at an online conference where he called for “an end to Zionism”.

An investigation into Miller began in March 2021 following this comment as well as several others, including him allegedly saying that Zionism is “fundamental” to “encourage Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism” and that the “Zionist Movement” is “the enemy”.

The university’s internal investigation, which ran alongside a police investigation, reached its conclusion after 200 days, and the university decided to terminate Professor Miller’s employment in October 2021.

After being sacked by Bristol University, Professor Miller immediately appealed against the decision; however, his internal appeal was rejected.

Following this decision, Miller said: “I stand by my evidence-based comments, and I will be challenging this decision, all the way to an Employment Tribunal if necessary.”

Responding to today’s ruling, Miller said: “I am extremely pleased that the Tribunal has concluded that I was unfairly and wrongfully dismissed by the University of Bristol.

“I am also very proud that we have managed to establish that anti-Zionist views qualify as a protected belief under the UK Equality Act.

“This was the most important reason for taking the case and I hope it will become a touchstone precedent in all the future battles that we face with the racist and genocidal ideology of Zionism and the movement to which it is attached.

“The determination that I was sacked for my anti-Zionist views is a huge vindication of my case all the way through this process.  The University of Bristol maintained that I was sacked because Zionist students were offended by my various remarks, but it was plain from the evidence of its own witnesses that this was untrue, and it was the anti-Zionist nature of my comments which was the decisive factor.”

The Union of Jewish Students have expressed their disappointment with the ruling, it said: “UJS is disappointed by the Employment Tribunal’s judgment in relation to David Miller. UJS believes this may set a dangerous precedent about what can be lawfully said on campus about Jewish students and the societies at the centre of their social life.”

It added that this decision would “ultimately make Jewish students less safe”.

A University of Bristol spokesperson said: “The University of Bristol acknowledges the judgment of the Employment Tribunal but is disappointed with its findings.

“After a full investigation and careful deliberation, the University concluded that Dr Miller did not meet the standards of behaviour we expect from our staff in relation to comments he made in February 2021 about students and student societies linked to the University. As a result and considering our responsibilities to our students and the wider university community, his employment was terminated.

“We recognise that these matters have caused deep concern for many, and that members of our community hold very different views from one another. We would, therefore, encourage everyone to respond in a responsible and sensitive way in the current climate.

“The University of Bristol remains committed to fostering a positive working and learning environment that enriches lives and where the essential principles of academic freedom are preserved.

“The university is reviewing the tribunal’s lengthy judgment carefully and in light of that review, it would not be appropriate to comment further.”

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