23 March 2006
Racism row lecturer is suspended
A lecturer who suggested ethnicity could influence average intelligence levels has been suspended from his job.
Dr Frank Ellis was suspended from his post as a lecturer at Leeds University pending disciplinary procedures.
The university emphasised that the suspension was not itself a penalty but said it had been deemed appropriate given "the seriousness of the issues".
The lecturer in Russian and Slavonic Studies told a student newspaper there was a "persistent gap" in IQ levels.
More than 500 students signed a petition calling for him to be sacked.
Many of them later demonstrated in Leeds against his views.
Leeds University had previously said that those views were "abhorrent" but there was no evidence he had discriminated against students.
But on Thursday, university secretary Roger Gair said in a statement that details of the disciplinary process "must remain a private matter" between employer and employee.
But he said three issues were being looked into.
1. In publicising his personal views on race and other matters, Dr Ellis had acted in breach of the university's equality and diversity policy, "and in a way that is wholly at odds with our values".
2. He had "recklessly jeopardised" the fulfilment of the university's obligations under the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000
3. He had failed to comply with "reasonable requests" - for example, to apologise for the distress which his remarks on race and other matters have caused to many people, or to give an undertaking he would make no further public comments suggesting one racial group is inherently inferior (or superior) to another "unless there is no possibility whatsoever that anyone hearing or reading his comments might reasonably associate him with the University of Leeds".
Mr Gair said the university was "clearly and publicly distancing itself" from his comments.
"Given the seriousness of the issues I have been outlining, the vice-chancellor, Professor Michael Arthur, has decided to suspend Dr Ellis from his duties while the disciplinary process is underway," he said.
He added: "I must emphasise that suspension is not in itself a disciplinary penalty."
Dr Ellis has expressed support for the Bell Curve theory, examined in a book by Richard Hernnstein and Charles Murray, which concludes that ethnicity can play a part in IQ levels.
He has previously maintained he has never treated a black student differently to a white student, and said he had "done nothing wrong".
Labelling him a racist was "an attempt to close down any discussion" and an attack on his freedom of speech, he said.
The disciplinary process might take some time to complete - possibly months.
The university said it intended to make no further public comment until it had been concluded.