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Protest in support of David Miller marks the beginning of his tribunal against Bristol Uni

‘Hopefully the tribunal will make it clear that he was a victim of unjust dismissal’

Dozens of people peacefully protested outside of Bristol Civil Justice Centre this afternoon in support of Professor David Miller.

The protest coincided with the beginning of Professor Miller’s Employment Tribunal case against the University of Bristol following the termination of his contract in October 2021 after he allegedly made comments at an online conference where he called for “an end to Zionism”.

Ron Mendel, a retired senior lecturer in international relations and politics at the University of Northampton, led the protest which began at 1pm and consisted of a series of speeches from several prominent figures.

Professor Harriet Bradley (an Emeritus Professor of sociology at Bristol University); Jonathan Cook (a journalist reporting closely on the Israel-Palestine conflict); Chris Williamson (a former Labour MP); and Mendel himself all delivered passionate speeches making it clear that they believe David Miller’s dismissal was unjust.

Chris Williamson making his speech during the protest

Speaking exclusively to The Bristol Tab, Ron Mendel said: “His [Miller’s] dismissal was unfair because it was alleged he was anti-semitic and the university conducted a thorough investigation and hired a QC that looked into the allegations.

“They found that David Miller did not commit any [unlawful] speech. Yet, the University of Bristol decided to sack him because they felt his behaviour did not conform to the standards of an employee of the university… it seems that the university did not live up to its own commitments to academic freedom.

“We’re out here today to make it clear that we feel his dismissal was unjust… and hopefully the tribunal will make it clear that he was a victim of unjust dismissal.”

Mendel added that he felt “academic freedom is in the process of being eroded and compromised” as a result of Miller’s dismissal.

Just over 41,000 people have signed a petition calling on Bristol Uni to give Miller his job back, adding further fuel to the protest.

The Employment Tribunal is scheduled to last 10 days, with closing submissions to take place on Friday 1st December.

The Employment Tribunal is scheduled to last 10 days, with closing submissions to take place on Friday 1st December.

An investigation into Professor Miller began in March 2021 after he allegedly made several comments, which included calling for “the end” of Zionism, that Zionism is “fundamental” to “encourage Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism” and that the “Zionist Movement” is “the enemy”.

The former sociology professor also claimed that a student was involved in “political surveillance” against him, and that attacks on him are “directed by the State of Israel”, which resulted in the online abuse of Jewish students.

Professor David Miller

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.

Following Miller’s sacking, a Bristol University spokesperson said: “We have a duty of care to all students and the wider university community, in addition to a need to apply our own codes of conduct consistently and with integrity.

“Balancing those important considerations, and after careful deliberation, a disciplinary hearing found Professor Miller did not meet the standards of behaviour we expect from our staff and the university has concluded that Professor Miller’s employment should be terminated with immediate effect.

“The university regards the principle of academic freedom as fundamental and would like to reiterate that we take any risk to stifle that freedom seriously.

“The investigation included an independent report from a leading Queen’s Counsel who considered the important issue of academic freedom of expression and found that Professor Miller’s comments did not constitute unlawful speech.”

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

Following this rejection, David Miller said: “The University of Bristol has embarrassed itself and the entire British academic sector by capitulating to a pressure campaign against me overseen and directed by a hostile foreign government. It has run a shambolic process that seems to have been vetted by external actors.

“Israel’s assets in the UK have been emboldened by the University collaborating with them to shut down teaching about Islamophobia. The University of Bristol is no longer safe for Muslim, Arab or Palestinian students.

“I stand by my evidence-based comments and I will be challenging this decision, all the way to an Employment Tribunal if necessary,” which he of course has now done.

On today’s protest, a spokesperson for the University of Bristol said: “After a full investigation and careful deliberation, the university concluded that David Miller did not meet the standards of behaviour we expect from our staff.

“As a result, his employment was terminated on 1st October 2021. We are unable to comment further due to the ongoing legal proceedings.”

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