I was fired for being a white Christian, claims professor

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The former principal of a college, which claims its aim is to promote multiculturalism, has insisted he was sacked from his post because he was a white Christian.

Professor Malory Nye, 47, had been working at Dundee’s Al Maktoum College of Higher Education for eight years when he was suspended from his £67,000-a-year post last June.

Prof Nye was giving evidence at an employment tribunal in the city, claiming he was eventually dismissed so he could be replaced by an Arabic Muslim.

His suspension came just days after he changed the name of the organisation from its original title of the Al Maktoum Institute for Arabic and Islamic studies.

Prof Nye, who is representing himself at the proceedings, said yesterday that he was given instructions by the board of directors that his aim should be to turn the institution into a university college with degree-awarding powers of its own.

He is claiming unfair dismissal against the college on the grounds of racial and religious discrimination and insists he has no idea what the grounds for his sacking were.

In his evidence, he said that towards the end of his tenure as principal, the chair of the college’s board of directors, Mirza al Sayegh, increasingly declined to communicate directly with him.

Instead, he alleges that Mr al Sayegh, private secretary to Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, deputy ruler of Dubai and patron of the institute, preferred to communicate with its Libyan director of operations, Abubaker G Abubaker, than speak to him directly.

Prof Nye said: “I never dreamed that what happened would ever happen.

“I was in the role of principal but I would say it was 50/50 whether Mr al Sayegh would communicate with Mr Abubaker or with me.

“This was because Mr Abubaker spoke Arabic and – I don’t like to say this – because he was an Arab and a Muslim as well.

“I don’t speak Arabic. I have tried to learn, but there is no requirement in my job description for me to speak Arabic.

“I was a figurehead. I was there to make it look like [the college] had a multicultural approach, that there was diversity. A person from a non-Arab, non-Muslim background demonstrated diversity.

“They also wanted to make use of my skills as a manager and my reputation as an academic.”

Prof Nye said in the months leading up to his suspension, his relationship with Mr Abubaker became increasingly strained over the future strategic direction of the college and deficits in the budget.

He said: “Mr Abubaker complained about what he saw as mismanagement of the institution. I knew nothing of his concerns, even though he said he had discussed them with me many times.”

Prof Nye, from Perth, said that, during one disagreement, Mr Abubaker began shouting at him “for several minutes”.

However, he claimed that the college’s chancellor, Lord Thomas Murray Elder, refused to take any action over any of the allegations against Mr Abubaker.

Prof Nye said: “This was discrimination – discrimination does not have to be deliberate.”

The tribunal continues.