UK's National Union of Students sacks president after inquiry into anti-Semitism

Officials opened an investigation into the conduct of Shaima Dallali in May

Shaima Dallali. Photo: Twitter
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The president of the National Union of Students (NUS) has been sacked after an investigation into allegations of anti-Semitism.

Officials in May opened an inquiry into the conduct of Shaima Dallali, with Rebecca Tuck KC leading the independent investigation into the president-elect under the NUS code of conduct.

On Tuesday, the NUS revealed it had taken the decision to terminate Ms Dallali's contract after an independent panel found "significant breaches of NUS policies” had occurred.

The union said the panel's decision could be subject to an appeal.

The Campaign Against Anti-Semitism organisation described Ms Dallali's removal as an "encouraging first step", while the Union of Jewish Students said the case "is a symptom of a wider problem".

The NUS said it wanted to keep working closely with the UJS on the wider investigation into the allegations about the NUS and is "exploring actions that NUS can take in the near future to build trust and confidence with Jewish students".

The NUS apologised "for the harm that has been caused", saying that it hopes "to rebuild the NUS in an inclusive way ― fighting for all students as we have done for the past 100 years".

NUS vice-president of higher education Chloe Field has been made acting chair of the NUS UK board.

She said: "I am proud to fight on behalf of all of our students and therefore I am determined to work together with the Union of Jewish Students to re-establish trust in our organisation and tackle some of the biggest issues facing students right now."

Education minister Robert Halfon said: "We welcome the verdict to this initial investigation and look forward to seeing the outcome of the next stage, which will provide more detail on National Union of Students' plans to address antisemitism within the organisation."

Home Office minister Robert Jenrick also welcomed the action. He tweeted: "Anti-Semitism is abhorrent. There can be no place for it on our university campuses. I welcome this step and look forward to further action, so Jewish students can enjoy their student years free from racism."

In a statement, the UJS said: "UJS respects the decision of the National Union of Students to dismiss their president. Anti-Semitism in the student movement goes beyond the actions of any one individual and this case is a symptom of a wider problem.

"Jewish students across the country will be asking how an individual deemed unfit for office by the NUS was elected in the first place. We await the findings of the substantive inquiry into NUS treatment of Jewish students."

Binyomin Gilbert, programme manager at Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, said: "The removal of Shaima Dallali as NUS president is an encouraging first step, and may represent the first acknowledgment by NUS of how dreadful its relations with Jewish students have become.

"Nobody with a history of expressing anti-Semitic sentiments has a place in student leadership, and while her removal is certainly the right decision, the culture in NUS and student politics that allowed somebody like Ms Dallali to rise so high must still be addressed.

"This is hardly the first time that we have had to raise concerns about anti-Semitism at the top of NUS. That is why Rebecca Tuck KC's investigation into anti-Semitism in NUS more widely, to which we have contributed, is so important."

Updated: November 02, 2022, 3:07 PM