Sacked president Shaima Dallali launches legal action against NUS

The ousted union leader claims her dismissal was motivated by antipathy towards her pro-Palestinian beliefs and Islamic faith


Ousted NUS president Shaima Dallali has launched employment tribunal proceeding against her former employer, claiming her sacking was discriminatory.

The former City University student leader was dismissed after a months-long independent investigation into allegations of antisemitism found "significant breaches" of the union's policies.

In a statement released today, Dallali’s lawyers claimed her anti-Zionist beliefs were protected under the Equality Act and that she did not receive a fair disciplinary process.

According to her lawyers, the former president considers her dismissal to have been motivated by "antipathy" towards her pro-Palestinian beliefs and Islamic faith.

There can be “no rational basis” for dismissing her, the document by her lawyers concludes.

After Dallali’s election as NUS president in March 2020 it emerged she had previously shared posts in which she praised antisemitic cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi and comments such as “Khaybar Khaybar O Jews… Muhammad’s army will return Gaza”, a reference to a 628 AD massacre of Jews.

In May last year, an investigation led by Rebecca Tuck KC was commissioned by the NUS to examine recent and historic allegations of antisemitism within the union.

In August, Dallali was suspended from her role, and on November 1 she was dismissed.

Leading law firm Carter Ruck, which is representing the sacked union president, said today: "Ms Dallali has deeply held, publicly-articulated beliefs on the right of Palestinians to live free of occupation."

After her election, they add, "[she] was the subject of numerous complaints as well as personal abuse and threats, to the effect that her past articulation of her anti-Zionist beliefs amounted to antisemitism.”

Dallali believes that once the NUS began investigating her, she was disadvantaged at "every single stage" of the process.

"Every single complaint against her was investigated, however baseless or inherently discriminatory," Carter Ruck write.

Dallali was allegedly required to defend or renounce the views expressed by other Muslims, despite never having expressed them herself.

Her lawyers also claim the NUS refused to take into account her written submissions to the investigation and that she was not permitted to have legal representation at her disciplinary hearing.

Dallali was ultimately dismissed over four tweets, they claim, adding that three of these were found to be "discourteous" but not antisemitic by the NUS while the fourth - in which Dallali repeated the "Khaybar O Jews" cry - was not understood to be antisemitic by her at the time.

The statement claims: "She has apologised fully and repeatedly since, much as both before and during her tenure as President of the NUS she has repeatedly made clear her opposition to all forms of racism, including antisemitism, while continuing to campaign to denounce the plight of the Palestinian people.

“It is Ms Dallali's position that these four tweets patently did not amount to a dismissible offence and that there can be no rational explanation for dismissing her on this (or any other) basis."

Dallali is now seeking compensation for her less of earnings, stigma damages, personal injury, injury to feelings and aggravated damages from the NUS.

She has also launched an appeal to the NUS under their internal appeal procedure.

An NUS statement published at the time Dallali was dismissed said: “Following the independent KC-led investigation into allegations of antisemitism, specifically into the then president-elect under the NUS code of conduct, an independent panel has found that significant breaches of NUS policies have taken place. As per this finding, we have terminated the president’s contract.”

The Union of Jewish Students commented: “Jewish students across the country will be asking how an individual deemed unfit for office by NUS was elected in the first place. 

“We await the findings of the substantive inquiry into NUS treatment of Jewish students.”

An NUS spokesperson said: “We are confident that the independent KC-led investigations that led to the dismissal of the previous President were conducted in a thorough and fair way – and in the strictest parameters of the law.

"There is no room for doubt that this process has been as robust as it gets. We understand the former President has now submitted employment tribunal proceedings.

"Our focus is to represent all students and to rebuild NUS to be an inclusive and progressive force for good. We are taking steps to enact our antisemitism action plan and to mobilise students to campaign for a better future."

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