Academic says views on Israel led to him being sacked

David Miller told an employment tribunal his anti-Zionist views were deemed anti-Semitic

Prof David Miller outside the Bristol Civil Justice Centre, where his case is being heard by an employment tribunal. PA Wire
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A university academic has told an employment tribunal that his career was “effectively ended” after he was sacked over comments he made about Israel.

David Miller drew controversy during a lecture at the university in 2019, when he said the Zionist movement was one of five pillars driving Islamophobia in the UK, the tribunal heard.

The University of Bristol subsequently received a complaint from the Community Security Trust charity, which said his lecture was a “false, vile … anti-Semitic slur”.

During an investigation, it was heard that Prof Miller's behaviour had led to Jewish students “being subjected to weeks of harassment and abuse”.

He was sacked as a professor of political sociology for gross misconduct by the institution in October 2021 after a disciplinary hearing found he “did not meet the standards of behaviour” expected of university staff.

Prof Miller took his case to the employment tribunal, claiming unfair dismissal, breach of contract and discrimination, as well as victimisation on the grounds of religion or belief.

He told the tribunal attempts have been made to “confuse anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism” and said anti-Zionism was not a “racist set of ideas”.

Prof Miller said the dismissal overseen by Prof Jane Norman had ended his academic career.

He claimed that while she could have issued him with a warning, which would have allowed him to find another job, she did not “because of a belief that I would not abide by the terms of a warning”.

“The university dismissing me has effectively ended my career in academia,” Prof Miller told the hearing.

“I can never get a job at another university because of what she refuses to say here – that I am an anti-Semite.

“If I had been given a warning, it would have been possible for me to get another job and I would have been out of the University of Bristol's hair, and we wouldn't be here.”

Prof Miller claims a “significant number” of “fraudulent” complaints of anti-Semitism were being made by Jewish students, who were being used as “pawns” by the Israeli state, the hearing was told.

He previously claimed at the tribunal that “Zionist organisations” had made UK universities targets through a “censorship campaign”.

The tribunal could become a test case as the academic attempts to argue his anti-Zionist stance is a protected philosophical belief, his lawyers said.

After an investigation of the initial complaint by the CST, no further action was taken against Scottish-born Prof Miller.

But further complaints were made to the university about him after he took part in an event called “Building the campaign for free speech” in February 2021, in which he spoke of being publicly criticised for his views on Palestine and Israel.

Updated: October 24, 2023, 11:08 AM