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The case of Fraser v University and College Union concerned a number of claims of harassment by the Claimant against the Respondent union of which he was a member, under section 57 of the Equality Act 2010. The complaints were based on or stemmed from motions debated at the Respondent's Congress (annual conference) in the years 2007 to 2011 on proposals for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions
In the tribunal's words, the Claimant's dissatisfaction with the Respondents' handling of this "now finds expression in this enormous piece of litigation in which he charges the Respondent with "institutional anti-Semitism" which, he says, constitutes harassment of him as a Jew" (para 3).
After a 20-day hearing, a 23-volume trial bundle, 23 witnesses for the Claimant and 5 for the Respondent, an employment tribunal dismissed all the claims, finding all but one to be "manifestly unmeritorious" (para 169) and that other to be "clearly unsustainable...[and] hopelessly out of time...in any event" (para 177).
The judgment promulgated on 22 March 2013 (available here) is very lengthy, running to 182 paragraphs over 45 pages, and of course does not have any binding effect. Nonetheless the following points may be of some interest:
The final paragraphs of the decision read as follows:
"178...We greatly regret that the case was ever brought. At heart, it represents an impermissible attempt to achieve a political end by litigious means. It would be very unfortunate if an exercise of this sort were ever repeated.
179. We are also troubled by the implications of the claim. Underlying it we sense a worrying disregard for pluralism,tolerance and freedom of expression, principles which the courts and tribunals are, and must be, vigilant to protect (for a recent example, see Smith-v-Trafford Housing Trust  EWHC 3221 (Ch)). The Claimant and his advisors would have done well to heed the observations of Mr Beloff and Mr Saini concerning the importance which the law attaches to political freedom of expression.
180. What makes this litigation doubly regrettable is its gargantuan scale. Given the case management history, the preparations of the parties and the sensitivity of the subject-matter, we thought (rightly or wrongly) that it was proper to permit the evidence to take the course mapped out for it, provided that the hearing did not overrun its allocation. But we reminded ourselves frequently that, despite appearances, we were not conducting a public inquiry into anti-Semitism but considering a legal claim for unlawful harassment. Viewed in that way, a hearing with a host of witnesses, a 20-day allocation and a trial bundle of 23 volumes can only be seen as manifestly excessive and disproportionate. The Employment Tribunals are a hard-pressed public service and it is not right that their limited resources should be squandered as they have been in this case. Nor, if (contrary to our view) it was proper to face them with any claim at all, should the Respondents have been put to the trouble and expense of defending proceedings of this order or anything like it."
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