Lecturer awarded pounds 29,000 over anti-Irish bias at work

A Belfast-born college lecturer who was called an "Irish prat" and "Gerry Adams" by colleagues has been awarded more than pounds 29,000 damages by an industrial tribunal.

The tribunal at Newcastle upon Tyne had earlier found that the Northumberland College of Arts and Technology, based at Ashington, discriminated against Alan Bryans.

In its ruling, it recommended that the college should seek to improve its policies and procedures for dealing with discrimination.

Mr Bryans, who is on paid sick leave, complained to his employers after a lecturer called him an "Irish prat" in front of a visitor. He was also upset about being called "Gerry Adams" by another colleague and not being short-listed for a vacancy. Failure to gain satisfaction led to the special needs lecturer, backed by the Commission for Racial Equality, taking the college to the tribunal.

The CRE said the tribunal noted both the college and Mr Bryans were keen he should "return to work without further discrimination or recrimination as soon as he is fit to do so".

The tribunal statement said: "We felt this was a particularly appalling case of discrimination upon discrimination and a failure to seize the nettle and deal with the source of the original injury promptly and effectively. We find it difficult to conceive that what has happened will not have a marked effect upon his future career prospects."

The tribunal criticised the way Mr Bryans' complaints were handled, the college principal's failure to resolve the matter, victimisation after his complaint and the failure to short-list him for a vacancy.

Mr Bryans' full award of pounds 29,971 damages is against the college, a fellow lecturer and three members of management. It will be paid out of college funds. The college has been recommended to improve its procedures by consulting with the CRE and the conciliation service Acas.

Herman Ouseley, CRE chairman, yesterday offered help, saying: "We have been concerned for some time over the number of complaints of racial discrimination that we have been receiving from the further education sector."

Mr Bryans could not be contacted for comment. But the college said it was disappointed by the tribunal finding that it discriminated against him.

The statement said the college "does not accept Mr Bryans was victimised as a result of having made the complaint or as a result of having brought the industrial tribunal case".