Lecturer who said whites were superior is suspended

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The Independent Online

A university lecturer who claimed whites are intellectually superior has been suspended.

Dr Frank Ellis, of Leeds University, whose comments are being examined by West Yorkshire Police, was removed pending disciplinary procedures because he had "recklessly jeopardised" the university's obligations under race relations legislation, said the university's secretary, Roger Gair.

Dr Ellis's comments have been causing controversy at the university since 2000 when, at a conference of far-right groups in the United States, he likened the inquiry into the police handling of the Stephen Lawrence murder to one of Stalin's show trials.

He described himself as an "unrepentant Powellite" who thought the BNP was "a bit too socialist" in an interview with the Leeds Student newspaper.

The clamour for his removal culminated in a protest by more than 300 students and staff last week.

Mr Gair had previously resisted calls for Dr Ellis's removal, insisting that staff were free to proffer controversial views and test received wisdom without fear of removal. But Dr Ellis has refused to guarantee no future utterances about racial superiority.

Dr Ellis was told yesterday afternoon that he was being suspended from his duties as a lecturer in Russian and Slavonic studies while the disciplinary process ­ which could take months ­ was under way.

Mr Gair said Dr Ellis had acted in breach of the university's equality and diversity policy, "in a way that is wholly at odds with our values" . He added: "We asked him to apologise for the distress which his remarks on race and other matters have caused to many people inside and outside the university. He has not agreed to do that. Nor has he given us an undertaking to make it clear in public that scientific questions about the differences, if any, between different racial groups are questions which lie a long way from his own area of academic expertise."

Mr Gair had warned Dr Ellis in a letter: "If you make any such further comment without the university's express consent, then you will be committing a breach of the implied term of trust and confidence, a breach of which will be good cause for your dismissal.''

Dr Ellis indicated through friends that the threat of dismissal had infuriated him and that he considered such a ban a violation of human rights legislation.

The race relations legislation under which Leeds is suspending Dr Ellis requires public bodies to give due regard to the need "to promote equality of opportunity and good relations between persons of different racial groups".

But the university's disciplinary investigation will be made more difficult by the lack of evidence that Dr Ellis has treated any of his pupils in a prejudicial way.