University of Essex sacks lecturer over allegations of anti-Semitic comments on social media
PUBLISHED: 13:51 29 May 2019 | UPDATED: 17:29 29 May 2019
A lecturer at the University of Essex has been sacked after allegedly posting anti-Semitic comments on social media.
The dismissal comes following an investigation and tribunal hearing by the university, whose main campus sits on the outskirts of Colchester.
It is believed the staff member in question is computer science lecturer Dr Maaruf Ali.
Dr Ali denied being anti-Semitic or denying the Holocaust.
He told the BBC: "I am not against Jews, I don't hate their religion, their people or their culture.
"I believe that everyone should be allowed to form any society.
"This is what I'm thinking now - which is what I didn't think at the time."
The firing comes after a row erupted at the university in February after hundreds of students voted against creating a Jewish society, sparking a backlash from the public, MPs and celebrities.
More than 200 student union members, around 36% of those asked, answered "no" to a question of "should there be a Jewish society?"
There are several religious societies that have already been given the green light by the university's student's union - including those for Christianity and Islam.
At the time, a spokesman for the Union of Jewish Students said: "Jewish societies, of which over 60 exist on UK campuses up and down the country, provide a space for Jewish students to celebrate their culture and identity.
"The fact that some students at the University of Essex deem it fit to vote against that it quite simply shocking."
The vote was described by Colchester MP Will Quince as "shocking" and terrible".
The vote sparked a show of solidarity, with hundreds of students and staff turning out on campus to demonstrate and make a stand against anti-Semitism.
The university later announced there had been irregularities in the poll and set up a fresh vote.
MP Bernard Jenkin Tweeted he was pleased the "tainted ballot" had been pulled.
He said: "Must be made clear to those voting against have behaved unacceptably. Let's hope for reflection, mediation, reconciliation and healing, and a fresh ballot will approve the new Jewish Soc."
A Jewish Society was later created irrespective of any student vote while a member of staff was suspended over allegations they had posted inappropriate comments on social media in the wake of the row.
A spokesman for the university said: "The university has now completed an independent investigation into the serious allegations made against a member of university staff.
"Following a tribunal hearing which considered all the evidence the member of staff has been dismissed."