Lecturer loses appeal

Ian Cheong

An employment tribunal judge has described claims made by an academic  during her appeal against the University for sexual discrimination “based on an implausible speculation”.

Balliol French lecturer Dr Cecile Deer’s appeal, lost on 20th April, was based on the allegation that her DPhil mentor Dr Geoffrey Walford knew of a previous sexual discrimination case she had brought against the University. Professor Walford, now Emeritus Professor of Education Policy at the Department of Education, had refused her a reference on the basis that was too late in her career to apply for the position and there was a lack of recent publication in her CV.

The President of the Tribunal Mr Justice Underhill, rejected all of Deer’s claims. He said: “There was never in truth any real basis for suspecting that Professor Walford knew about, still less had been motivated by, the fact that the Appellant had brought a sex discrimination claim against the University.”

He added: “The claimant had brought an expensive and damaging claim against Professor Walford and the University based on nothing more than an implausible speculation and had persisted in it after a clear warning from the Tribunal.” He also ordered Dr Deer to pay the Professor’s and the University’s legal costs.

Deer’s  first case against the University was in 2007, when she alleged that she had been excluded from University’s women’s football team for being a parent. An out-of-court settlement with the University was reached in June 2008.

M Justice Underhill continued: “At the beginning of these proceedings Professor Walford’s reputation and integrity were under attack.  He leaves this Employment Tribunal with his reputation restored.  Sadly, by reason of her own actions, the Claimant will leave this Tribunal with her reputation tarnished.”

Students taught by Deer said: “The case would not affect the way we see her. She is a really good tutor who always inspires and encourages us to work hard.”

Ms Trudy Coe, head of the University’s Equality and Diversity Unit, said: “The University’s Integrated Equality Policy provides that no student or member of staff will be treated less favourably on the grounds of gender or gender identity.”

Professor Walford could not be reached for comment.