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A Word From The Leader

University Challenge: Sheffield & Brunel's Lying Doctor Service

Once again the University of Sheffield’s disciplinary and appeals procedure has been found wanting and another victim of its hopalong, kangaroo procedures bites the dust.

Sheffield University - not Sheffield Hallam - has an abysmal track record of dealing with the complaints of students and staff members against the abuses of power by members of its ruling establishment together, and so it would seem, with that of Brunel. The latest scandal involves Mr. Jamal Jamili, a mature, Kurdish-Iranian mathematics lecturer, his supervisor, the head of the Department of Applied Mathematics, together with other key members of the university's Administration including two senior professors of law.

This particular problem began back in 1993 when Mr. Jamili complained about the incompetence and poor level of supervision being provided by his department.

Furthermore, he discovered later, that his supervisor, had not even published a paper during the past 19 years and retired one year after commencing his supervisory role without informing the student - who was full-time and paying fees. After being fobbed off with a number of unkept promises that his supervisor would be changed, the student decided to illustrate his supervisor's ineptitude by demonstrating, in mathematical terms, in his own thesis, his supervisor's incompetence in drawing attention to the fact that his supervisor's former student had made use of the work of someone else without giving credit for it.

What ensued was an elaborate dirty tricks campaign to discredit him involving an extract taken from a project which his supervisor implied was either his own work or that of one of his former students. Mr.Jamili was encouraged to include this “verbatim" in his own Thesis only to find out later that this was the work of a student at Brunel University in 1986 and unrelated to his work. The trick was that as his external examiner was also from Brunel, his supervisor knew that he would recognise the offending passages and lodge an objection to it being used without the appropriate recognition and acknowledgement. Under the normal rules of engagement this problem would have been easily sorted out between “consenting” members of the "examination ring".

The following is an extract from an interview between Professor Eastwood, a former Head of the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Sheffield, and myself back in 1993, which I included in a letter submitted to the Privy Council in regard to an earlier grievance which came about as a result of Professor - Hopalong or Kangaroo to those who know him - Battersby's failure to act objectively and impartially in an earlier case which included, amongst other elements, blatant racial intimidation against the renowned Indian academic Dr. Narayan Swamy and his students.

“Often, students have to be helped through external examinations, because we all know, of course, that the Ph.D. degree is often, but not entirely, a nonsense degree, and to be perfectly honest, in most cases they are just glorified technicians who help the research worker with his work, and in the majority of cases they need a great deal of assistance in writing up their thesis. You then find your examiner; who is part of the ring, so to speak. Who, if your Nigerian Ph.D. student breaks down into tears during the oral examination, you just comfort him until he recovers..."

As was later discovered the “ring" around Mr. Jamili was far more incestuous and collusive than could possibly be imagined. Not only is the present Head of the Department of Applied Mathematics formerly a professor from Brunel University, but so was his internal examiner. Bullying and covering it up has been going on for years at the University of Sheffield.

An earlier Committee of Inquiry which met on 10 occasions, headed by Professor Graham Battersby, Sheffield University's Dean of the Faculty of Law, exposed a long catalogue of disagreements and “unpleasant exchanges", between Professor Hanna and Dr Swamy. It reported in 1986 that "regrettably, some of these ‘unpleasant exchanges’ are in public and witnessed by students."

Like most legal proceedings, these types of hearing are not set up to get at the truth, but to simply serve as a damage limitation exercise to make sure that the university is not blamed or, more importantly, is not sued for damages, legitimate or otherwise.

In Dr. Swamy’s case, the Council for Racial Equality (of which he was, at that time, its acting chairman) was prevented from pursuing the University for racial discrimination, because Dr Swamy was not prepared to run the risk of ruining his career. For, as he pointed out, without the Head Of Department's approval, he knew that he could not move anywhere else within the British University system - 18 other senior academics had been forced to get degrees in other subjects because Professor Hanna, the Head of the Department of Civil Engineering at Sheffield University, corrupted by power, had become a petty tyrant. The report continued: “Whilst Professor Battersby observed that "a number of students have been caught in the "crossfire” between Prof Hanna and Dr Swamy, the issue was not resolved.”

They tried to put it down to a "clash of temperament" and "personalities". This was patently untrue. If either committee had really wanted to do justice, they would have called Dr Bill Eastwood, the former Head of that Department, and the person responsible for appointing both Dr Swamy and Professor Hanna, who also knew of the real cause of the "Wars on Mappin Street". Back then, justice would have been done, and been seen to be done, had Dr. Bill Eastwood been invited to give evidence, which he was more than willing to do.

When I enquired on the 9th of March 1988, why be had not been called, I was given the following "off the record" reason by the then Registrar Mr John Padley. He said, “obviously, in any organisation, it is difficult to admit that we have harboured an incompetent in our midst. Especially when it has been looked at by a fairly senior committee (Battersby) - and for what ever reason dealt with in a particular way - we have got to live with that. It is not for us to overthrow that publicly."

This is certainly the difficulty facing the University of Sheffield today, which is still harbouring and paying incompetents. This was abundantly clear from the summing up by Professor David McClean, who pointed out that expulsion was the only option open to him and his committee, pointing out that Mr. Jamili "had to be expelled from the University as his challenges strike at the very heart of this institution".

Professors of Law are not practitioners or dispensers of Justice. They demand our submission to their "Rule of Law" to which we must reply: “Lex mala Lex nula" "Defective Law is No Law at all" This should help us to understand why cases like The Guildford Four and The Birmingham Six will continue to happen and why the one involving Steven Lawrence remains unresolved. Professor McClean's unjust ruling is the standard reaction from a person operating in a system in which its people are trained "never to apologise and never to explain." Or, to quote another of their maxims: "We are the Masters, you lick our boots".

Author: David Musa Pidcock
Date Published: Winter 2000/2001

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