Sacked ex-president of UK's National Union of Students plans legal action over 'unfair dismissal'
The former president of the National Union of Students (NUS), Shaima Dallali, announced on Friday that she will be launching an employment tribunal proceeding against the UK student body after she was sacked from her position in a move she described as "discriminatory".
Dallali, who is known for having pro-Palestinian and anti-Zionist views, was dismissed in November last year, following an investigation over allegations of "antisemitism".
After her dismissal, Dallali rejected the probe’s findings, maintaining that "the process constituted - and that it continues to constitute - discriminatory treatment of her as a Black Muslim woman and her beliefs concerning the plight of the Palestinian people", according to her official statement.
However, her lawyers Carter-Ruck said in a press release that her views regarding Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories "amount to protected beliefs for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010".
"Ms Dallali has deeply held, publicly-articulated beliefs on the right of Palestinians to live free of occupation," they said.
"She has publicly articulated those beliefs throughout her adult life, just as she has consistently and repeatedly condemned antisemitism," they added on Dallali, who is a hijab-wearing Muslim woman of Sudanese and Tunisian heritage.
The lawyers say that her dismissal was wrongful, as she was "disadvantaged" in every step of the process.
Her ousting as NUS president, occurring in July 2022 following her election in March of the same year, was followed by a barrage of complaints, abuse and death threats, some of which linked her anti-Zionist beliefs to "antisemitism".
Complaints against Dallali were investigated by the NUS, irrespective of their credibility or discriminatory nature, Carter-Ruck said, prompting her to "renounce views expressed by other Muslims, even though she had not expressed them herself".
Shortly after her dismissal, she announced that she would fight against the leading student body’s decision to dismiss her, reported The Guardian.
The lawyers, however, accused the NUS of not taking into account Dallali’s frequent written submissions and condemned them for not allowing her to have legal representation or witnesses, as she appealed against the decision.
Moreover, Dallali was not informed of her dismissal directly from the national student body but instead found out via media reports and social media. Carter-Ruck further accused the NUS of "disregarding her welfare", as sensitive and confidential information on Dallali was leaked, during reports on her sacking.
In their statement, they also stressed that the tweets for which she was investigated for were "not antisemitic" in nature and that they were "posted years" before she was elected as president.
They said, despite the above, Dallali had "apologised for tweeting an expression (in Arabic) that was often used in her community in relation to Palestine", which was "not intended to be offensive".
She and her lawyers maintain that her dismissal had been motivated by antipathy towards her protected anti-Zionist, pro-Palestinian protected beliefs, the fact that she supported the Palestinians and her religion as a Muslim".
She confirmed that she will be seeking compensation in relation to loss of earnings, stigma damages, personal injury, injury to feelings, and aggravated damages.
Dallali had previously served as the president of City, the University of London’s student union.