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Lecturer felt she had been 'mistreated'.

A LECTURER at Durham University has alleged she suffered "bullying" from senior members of staff after she defended the rights of third world students.

Dr Kathryn Hunt, lecturer in Counselling and Education at the University, says she suffered mistreatment at the hands of Professor Robert Allison during and after a meeting with him in 2002, at which it seemed the University was putting financial concerns above those of lives in the third world.

Speaking yesterday on the first day of an employment tribunal held in Newcastle Dr Hunt said problems first arose when the university decided it could no longer support the counselling department (CESCO) of the education faculty in which Dr Hunt worked.

The faculty was understaffed and had received a poor report from Ofsted inspectors.

It was argued the counselling department should be removed from the education faculty and the university, freeing up cash.

But in May 2000 the university had signed a five-year contract with Kenya Association of Professional Counsellors saying they would provide teaching in Nairobi, Kenya for MA courses in counselling, including a course in HIV and Aids prevention.

The course was designed to give African students access to education which they could use in the battle against HIV and Aids.

Dr Hunt said counselling is seen as a very cost effective way of cutting the rate of HIV, through educating sufferers in how prevent the spread of the disease.

The course had proved extremely popular and was receiving applications from all over the continent. And it had become highly regarded - CESCO had received a letter of commendation from the Department of International Development for its work in Kenya.

But if the Counselling Department was taken out of the university, there would be no more funding for the course in Kenya.

Dr Hunt said: "It was very expensive for Kenyans to attend the course. Lots of them had sold land and made other sacrifices.

KAPC had advertised the course widely and its reputation would have been destroyed if the course didn't then run."

During a meeting in November 2002 with Prof Allison, Dr Hunt and a colleague, Dr Maggie Robson, questioned the university's decision to stop funding the course.

Dr Hunt said: "Prof Allison adopted a broken record defence. He just repeated the phrase 'They are not our students we have no legal responsibility for them'.

"His sat with his dark glasses on swinging around in his wheeled chair and boasting that he had just changed his computer password to 'Groover'.

"He called us the girls in a derogatory manner and we felt his entire attitude was derogatory.

"We both left the meeting and felt was had been mistreated. We considered it bullying."

The case continues.


TRIBUNAL: Dr Kathryn Hunt left the meeting feeling as if she had been mistreated.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Sep 14, 2007
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