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Newcastle Uni staff member fired after calling his colleague ‘hash brown’

He says uni have handled the incident unfairly

Ollie de Planta de Wildenberg, a people services administrator at Newcastle University was fired for referring to his colleague as a "hash brown".

He is blaming the mistake on autocorrect and accusing the university of unfair dismissal.

Ollie told The Newcastle Tab: "A hash brown is a breakfast item, not a racist term."

His firing came after an investigation into the email which found that he "did type the words in question".

In the hearing on 25th October, a comment from the receiver of the email was shown which is said to have "made light" of the comment. They said it wasn't a nickname they usually went by and added a smiley face. Ollie took this to mean they weren't offended by it and told The Newcastle Tab he doesn't think it was the recipient of the email who complained.

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He'd been working at the university for just four days when he sent the email.

The Newcastle Tab spoke to Ollie who told us he didn't intend to cause any harm by the email and is disappointed with the way the university have handled the situation.

He said he didn't even realise his mistake until his line manager approached him stating the email contained "perceived offensive, racial language".

He told The Newcastle Tab: "The university have mishandled this situation. I was given four hours to prepare before my disciplinary hearing. Policy states I should have had five days.

"I also wasn't given the right to accompaniment in the meeting and I had to ask for my disciplinary documents which I eventually got four days after the meeting", Ollie claimed.

"It doesn't make the university look great if they can't follow their own policy.

"People are looking to apply to university at the moment and it doesn't put them in the best light to someone who is choosing between Newcastle and somewhere else."

"I haven't seen any support for the university's decision apart from a couple of comments on the bottom of one article."

A Newcastle University spokesperson told The Newcastle Tab: "We can confirm Oliver de Planta de Wildenberg is no longer employed by Newcastle University."

When The Newcastle Tab asked the university if they intended to address his complaint of unfair dismissal, the university said: "There is nothing further to add to our statement."