Monday, 25 February 2013

Defend the London Met Three!

Suspension of Trade Unionists at London Metropolitan University

Dear colleagues,

You may be aware that in addition to the suspension of the London Met UNISON Chair, Max Watson, and the London Met Staff Governor, Jawad Botmeh, Steve Jeffreys from London Met's widely respected ‘Working Lives Research Institute’ (WLRI) has also now been suspended. Steve is a UCU member and has made the statement provided at the end of this email.

Further to Steve's statement please also note that an online petition has now been created demanding the immediate reinstatement of Max, Jawad, and Steve. The petition was launched on Saturday 23 February and had attracted 350+ signatures by Sunday afternoon. Please add your name to the petition and circulate the petition  link to your branch members:

In addition a new campaign blog for the reinstatement of Max, Jawad, and Steve, that provides all the latest campaign news has been set up at:

In solidarity

Mark Campbell
London Metropolitan University UCU (Chair)
UCU National Executive Committee


Dear Trade Union Friends,

I'm writing to let you know that I was suspended on Wednesday by Londonmet after a 45 minute investigation into the WLRI because I appointed a former prisoner who had served 13 years imprisonment to a part-time, casual three month maternity cover job in our social justice Institute.

Did I know that his conviction in 1996 was for conspiracy to blow up the Israeli embassy? Yes. I also knew that he had been refused parole for 6 years because he maintained his innocence, and that Paul Foot and Robert Fisk had campaigned for him. And I saw his CV which included his having completed an OU degree in sociology and an MA in Peace and Reconciliation (with merit), as well has having been prisoners' rep on equality issues.

But actually, although this all made him an ideal person to work with us, I felt there was also a basic human rights issues involved. Do we give people a second chance?

The inference involved in my suspension and possible disciplinary action is that either I was involved in some highly sophisticated conspiracy to place a Palestinian terrorist 'sleeper' in a position where he could influence young minds and eventually get elected as staff governor (which five years after Jawad Botmeh started work has now triggered three suspensions), or that I was criminally stupid.

Everyone who knows me or my work knows that I am a principled socialist. But for me, my decision not to discriminate against this applicant whom I had never met, and whom Max Watson (a now very active UNISON trade unionist who is also suspended) had met once at a party is actually the survival of a liberal approach to others in my university. If a Research Institute dedicated to the promotion of social justice in a public institution will not give someone like Jawad the chance to work, who else will?

You'll realise that we are all in a state of shock. Three of the 13 WLRI staff are now suspended. Two others are still under investigation. I fear for our future - just weeks after celebrating our tenth anniversary.

The UCU and UNISON are united in supporting the three of us who are suspended - and your protest, and those you can encourage others to take, will strengthen their hands in the 'informal contacts' that are taking place in the hope of preventing the university from taking the next step of firing those it has suspended.

thanks in advance

all the best


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