A university lecturer fired after claiming “Jewish people are the cleverest in the world” and “Germans are good engineers” has had his claim of unfair dismissal rejected by a judge.
Stephen Lamonby claimed his comments could not be considered racist because he was using “positive” stereotypes of particular groups – declaring himself a victim of “woke” culture.
The 73-year-old engineering expert also told a colleague he had “a soft spot” for young black men because many of them have absent fathers.
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The controversial remarks were made during a meeting with his course leader at Solent University in Southampton in March 2019, an employment tribunal heard.
Mr Lamonby and Dr Janet Bonar were talking in the university canteen when he told her he believed people from different parts of the world were good at certain things due to “high exposure”.
The part-time lecturer claimed that “Germans are good at engineering” because they are “exposed to a high level of industry from an early stage in their lives”. He also asserted that Jewish people had “a particular gift” for the subject.
The 73-year-old’s remarks were then investigated by Solent University after Dr Bonar complained about his use of racial and national stereotypes.
Questioned by the university authorities, Mr Lamonby defended his comments by saying: “I have come to believe that certain nationalities have developed a higher level of skill in some areas.”
During a final disciplinary hearing he admitted using “clumsy” language – but reportedly referred to Jewish people having “neurological differences”.
He was dismissed for gross misconduct.
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The employment tribunal, held in Bristol, ruled that the university had a duty to its student body to protect them from potential acts of racism and rejected his claims of unfair dismissal.
Judge C H O’Rourke stated: “For the avoidance of doubt, I find that it is clearly at least potentially racist to group nationalities, races, ethnic or religious groups, by entire categories and to ascribe certain abilities or talents (or the opposite) to them, when, of course, as with any such group, talents or abilities will vary wildly from individual to individual.”
Mr Lamonby said he would be appealing the verdict – claiming he was a victim of a “woke” culture. He added: “You can’t make any comments [in universities] now because they are totally obsessed with racism.”
A Solent University spokesperson told The Independent: “We are pleased with the outcome of this hearing and its reflection of Solent’s commitment to our university values and to promoting equality, diversity and inclusivity for everyone who works and studies with us.”
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