Uni student marked down for not blaming Israel in essay awarded payout

Leeds graduate Danielle Greyman will receive an undisclosed sum under a 'commercial settlement' of her claim


The University of Leeds has settled a legal claim brought by sociology graduate after her coursework was wrongly failed because it did not blame Israel for the crimes of Hamas against Palestinians, the JC can reveal.

Danielle Greyman will receive an undisclosed sum, without any admissions, under a “commercial settlement” of her claim for damages.

The marking of the coursework had earlier been revised to a passing grade following Greyman’s successful internal appeal, and she has been awarded a 2:1 BA degree with honours.

However, the appeal process and re-marking took over a year, and the university’s confirmation of Greyman’s entitlement to the degree came too late to enable her to take up a place on a master’s course at Glasgow University.

Greyman was assisted by UK Lawyers For Israel (UKLFI) Charitable Trust in her appeal and legal claim, in which she was represented by barrister Jonathan Turner and solicitor Daniel Berke, both directors of the group.

A report reviewing the marking of her coursework was provided by Dr David Hirsh, Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Goldsmiths and Academic Director of the London Centre for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism.

Danielle Greyman said: “I am grateful for the support that UKLFI and the wider Jewish community has provided, and I hope this encourages other students to take action against institutions that do not uphold their responsibility of ensuring academic freedom and fair marking. That said, I am disappointed by the waste of resources that went into dealing with the issue.

“If the university had simply apologised at the outset, corrected the marking and offered antisemitism training to staff, I would have felt greatly satisfied.

"Instead, they failed to confirm that I was entitled to the degree until it was too late, and made me wait six months before hearing my appeal, and then a further six months for the re-marking. This has been a long and draining process, but it is necessary that large institutions know that they will be held accountable.”

David Hirsh said: “I have marked hundreds of sociology essays over 20 years, with many colleagues second marking them, with moderators checking, with external examiners reporting, with examination boards overseeing. This essay was not a fail.”

Jonathan Turner said: “We are very pleased with the settlement and hope that it will serve as a warning to universities and academics not to allow marking to be influenced by the anti-Israel bias which is so prevalent in academia. Ms Greyman is to be congratulated.”

A spokesperson for the University of Leeds said: “No finding of any wrongdoing on the part of the University has been made by the Court. Furthermore, the University does not consider or accept that there has been any wrongdoing. An internal review exonerated our staff of any alleged discrimination and the University remains fully supportive of the academic judgement of its academic staff.

“We strenuously deny the accusation of antisemitism,  the definition of which we interpret to be in line with the working definition of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).  

"The University of Leeds has a zero tolerance approach to antisemitism, and any form of unlawful discrimination or hate crime, and on which we follow Government guidance.

“The listing of this claim in the small claims court was surprising and unexpected. As a consequence, and on the commercial direction of our insurers, an offer without any admission of liability was made by the University which was accepted by the claimant.

"This offer was made expressly on the basis that the University does not accept any liability nor accept that the claimant has suffered any loss.”

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