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Shropshire college must pay out £25,000 in race case

Shrewsbury | News | Published:

Bosses at a Shropshire college have been forced to pay out more than £25,000 after the UK's longest-ever running race discrimination case ended.

After 14 years, it was ruled that Shrewsbury College of Arts and Technology had acted unfairly to Dr Aham Abegeze when he was turned down for a college lectureship.

But despite being awarded £25,787, Dr Abegeze says he will not give up his quest for more than £1 million.

Space engineering expert, Dr Abegeze, 56, was refused the lectureship after being interviewed by the college in September 1999.

In the following November, an employment tribunal found that he had been the victim of race discrimination. However, the dispute then went to sleep for years as Dr Abegeze, who was suffering from depression, failed to pursue his case.

Eventually, in 2006, a tribunal struck out his compensation claim, saying the matter had been going on so long that a fair trial was no longer possible. But that decision was overturned by the Court of Appeal in 2009 and the saga continued.

After an eight-day hearing, a tribunal in Birmingham awarded Dr Abegeze £25,787 in damages in January 2012 but even that did not bring an end to the dispute.

Dr Abegeze appealed against the award to the Employment Appeal Tribunal, insisting the discrimination had had such a devastating impact on his career and health he should have had more than £1 million.

Dismissing his challenge, Judge Jeremy McMullen QC ruled his claim for £533,000 for "injury to feelings" was "way outside the range" for a one-off act of race discrimination. His bid for another £529,000 to reflect loss of earnings was also "out of the question". His payout was "just and equitable".

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Dr Abegeze still has the opportunity to challenge the tribunal's decision in the Court of Appeal and Judge McMullen remarked: "He told me this was the longest running race discrimination claim ever and that this will go on and on. I imagine that he means that this appeal will go further."

The tribunal who made the award had said Dr Abegeze had "a fragile personality" before he applied for the college post. He had also pursued employment tribunal cases against British Telecom and other colleges.

A spokeswoman for Shrewsbury College of Arts and Technology declined to comment on the case.

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