The Daily Telegraph

‘Racist’ lecturer sacked after calling Jews clever

University lecturer claims he is victim of ‘woke’ culture after comments about positive stereotype­s

- By Izzy Lyons

A LECTURER was sacked for saying “Jewish people are the cleverest in the world” after he failed to convince a tribunal that his comments were not offensive because they were “positive”.

Stephen Lamonby, 73, a lecturer at

Solent University in Southampto­n, also said that “Germans are good at engineerin­g”.

The Bristol tribunal heard that the remarks were made in a meeting with Dr Janet Bonar, his course leader, in the university canteen in March 2019.

Mr Lamonby, who worked at Solent as a part-time associate lecturer for six years, told his colleague people from different countries were good at certain subjects due to “high exposure”.

Germans made good engineers because they were “exposed to a high level of industry from an early stage in their lives”, he told his colleague. Dr Bonar, an engineerin­g lecturer, said she had a degree in physics and Lamonby reacted by saying Jewish people had “a particular gift” for the subject. He then asked Dr Bonar if she was Jewish, to which she took offence and shouted that he was a racist. He said: “I believe the Jewish are the cleverest people in the world. They are much maligned because of it. I asked if you were Jewish because of your ability with maths/physics et cetera.”

After an investigat­ion was launched, Mr Lamonby defended his comments and gave another example of “high exposure” – namely Eskimos being good at fishing.

Mr Lamonby said he was “shocked” by Dr Bonar’s reaction, adding: “My comments were simply stating that, arising from my lifetime of experience, I have come to believe that certain nationalit­ies have developed a higher level of skill in some areas.

“This is directly related to the level of exposure to criteria such as industry and education … it is simply a view that reflects environmen­tal privilege.”

During a final disciplina­ry hearing he admitted he had “been clumsy” in his language and apologised. But he continued to make “inappropri­ate” comments, including that Jews have “neurologic­al difference­s”. Julie Hall, the university vice-chancellor, who chaired the hearing, said Mr Lamonby did not understand that what he had said was offensive and he was dismissed for gross misconduct.

The tribunal, held in Bristol, said the university had a duty to its “multicultu­ral, predominan­tly young student body” to protect them from potential racism and dismissed the claims of unfair dismissal and breach of contract. Judge C H O’rourke said: “While Mr Lamonby sought to argue that his stereotypi­ng (which it was) was positive, such ‘positivity’ is nonetheles­s potentiall­y offensive to the recipient.

“A Jew told they are good at physics – because they are a Jew – may well consider that as demeaning their personal intellectu­al ability/hard work.”

Mr Lamonby said he would appeal, claiming he was a victim of “woke” culture and that universiti­es are “totally obsessed with racism”. He said: “Free speech is totally dead in universiti­es.”

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