Race-bias case told of `errors'

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The head of an education panel accused of racial discrimination against a white maths teacher yesterday admitted errors in his selection policy.

David Waterman, chair of Lambeth council's community education selection panel, told an industrial tribunal: "Having looked again at the application forms of the six shortlisted candidates, I now question certain criteria of some. Now, being a great deal more experienced with this system of interviewing and staff selection, I might have made a different decision."

Ursula Gregory, of Loddington, Wiltshire, brought the action against the south London council after it declined to shortlist her for a full- time job as a maths teacher at Hugh Walker Adult Education Centre. She had taught the class as a temporary tutor but was not shortlisted for the post in March 1993. Of the 29 applicants, 21 were from an ethnic minority and of the shortlist of six, one was white.

Mr Waterman also told the Croydon tribunal that the panel had put a candidate on the shortlist without noticing the space on her application form for details of teaching experience was blank.

"Looking at it now, I would have raised the question and I'd have to say, not having seen the teaching experience, I just can't believe it. I really slipped up there as chair of the panel. Her record of employment is not there and I think now I would have queried that," he said.

Mrs Gregory complained about another shortlisted candidate whose only previous experience was as a temporary teacher in Southwark. She said he had left the "new ideas" section of the form blank. Mr Waterman agreed he would now have queried the selection of this candidate to the shortlist.

The hearing was adjourned until 30 November.