David Miller, an academic obsessed with anti-Jewish conspiracy theories, has been fired by the University of Bristol one month after Campaign Against Antisemitism commenced a lawsuit on behalf of current students against the institution.
Our legal case against the University concerned alleged unlawful harassment on the basis of Jewish ethnicity and Judaism, amounting to breaches of the Equality Act 2010, as well as breaches of contract. We launched proceedings in late August and the University swiftly realised that it was putting itself in legal jeopardy by sustaining Prof. Miller’s employment at the institution.
A number of brave students at the University stepped forward to act as complainants in the litigation. We also wish to thank Asserson Law Offices, led by senior partner Trevor Asserson, and barristers Derek Spitz of One Essex Court and Benjamin Gray of Littleton Chambers.
Having failed to act over Prof. Miller since his comments in February, in a statement released today by the University, it said that “following a full investigation”, Prof. Miller is “no longer employed by the University of Bristol,” explaining that “We have a duty of care to all students and the wider University community, in addition to a need to apply our own codes of conduct consistently and with integrity.” The statement admitted that “Prof. Miller did not meet the standards of behaviour we expect from our staff” and that accordingly, “the University has concluded that Professor Miller’s employment should be terminated with immediate effect.”
The lawsuit related to Prof. Miller’s speech on a Zoom webinar in February this year in which he said that the “Zionist Movement” is “the enemy” that must be engaged, that it is “the enemy of world peace,” and that those associated with Zionism, including Jewish students on Bristol campus, “must be directly targeted”.
Taken together, the implication of Prof. Miller’s remarks is that all decent people who support “world peace” should view Bristol Jewish Society and the Union of Jewish Students, and Jewish people, including those who identify with those bodies, and the vast majority of Jewish students as an “enemy” that must be “directly targeted”.
He also said that interfaith work between Jewish and Muslim groups is “a trojan horse for normalising Zionism in the Muslim community”. He also claimed that Jewish students, by virtue of being Zionist, “encourage Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism”.
Prof. Miller has a long record of inflammatory statements about the Jewish community.
Bristol had come under increasing pressure from the Jewish community, which was united in its disgust at Prof. Miller’s comments and the drawn-out investigation that the University was conducting with no apparent end in sight.
Prof. Miller’s statements and the University’s failure to condemn them and take swift action against him have been the subject of a great deal of attention from the Jewish community as well as hundreds of academics and Parliament, including a written question by Lord Austin, as well as a recent intervention from Robert Halfon MP. Prof. Miller was also defended by an array of controversial ‘usual suspects’ whose interventions did nothing for his collapsing credibility.
The legal claim that we spearheaded contended that Prof. Miller’s statements sought to create a hostile environment for Jewish students. It further alleged that the University was liable for Prof. Miller’s conduct, and was further liable in its own right, for unlawful conduct in breach of the Equality Act, and for its breach of its contract with students.
Other than a final call for prospective claimants, we minimised the public profile of the case in order to protect the identities of the brave student claimants who not only believed that enough is enough but that, in order for things to change, they must also act on that belief. We are enormously grateful to them for their courage. Despite the lower public profile of the case, the University was in no doubt about our intentions and resolve.
We also wish to thank others in the Jewish community, MPs and academics for the pressure that they have brought to bear on the University of Bristol in recent months.
Gideon Falter, Chief Executive of Campaign Against Antisemitism, said: “Within a month of us commencing proceedings against the University of Bristol on behalf of a group of courageous Jewish students, David Miller has been fired. We pay tribute to them for standing up against antisemitism and to our legal counsel for helping us secure this victory in the fight against anti-Jewish racism on campus.
“Following the launch of our lawsuit, it was clear to the University that it would be held to account in court and had to act to protect Jewish students in accordance with the law. Universities across the country should be warned that we will do whatever it takes to defend Jewish students from racists on campus by upholding their rights in court where necessary.”
The case was the latest step by Campaign Against Antisemitism to defend the rights of individual Jewish students. We believe that universities and students’ unions must be robustly held to account when they fail to defend Jewish students or when they allow their lecturers to discriminate against or harass them.