Muslim student likened to MP murderer receives financial settlement

Micropathology Ltd

A Muslim student lab assistant has received a financial settlement from his former employer, Micropathology Ltd, after a manager likened him to the man who murdered David Amess MP.

Micropathology Ltd, based in Coventry, sacked Waqas Rai, 23, without notice on December 31, 2021.

Months after his dismissal, Mr Rai’s former manager gave a university lecture which was recorded and uploaded online.

In the recording, the manager could be heard openly discussing the reasons for Mr Rai’s dismissal and saying he thought he had been “radicalised.”

In later correspondence with the university, the manager explicitly compared Mr Rai to “the man who killed the MP in Southend,” saying his “very intelligent” but “totally passive” behaviour was an indication that he had been radicalised.

Sir David Amess MP was killed in 2021 by Ali Harbi Ali, who was convicted of murder and the preparation of terrorist acts.

Mr Rai’s discrimination claim against his former employer was taken to an employment tribunal by lawyer Asif Timol of Fairmont Legal, based in Bolton, but the parties settled before a final hearing.

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Waqas Rai said: “I couldn’t believe it when I first heard what was said about me in the recording. I just felt so angry and confused.

“It has really affected my mental health and made me feel anxious about continuing to work in the industry. Every time I join a new institution or start a new job, I feel like I’m always going to be paranoid about what people think. I worry I’m not able to be myself because of what people might be thinking about me.

“I hope that sharing my experience can help prevent it from happening to others in the future, but to anyone who’s been treated like I have, I want to say that there is help out there. I’d like to thank my lawyer and the Equality and Human Rights Commission for their support.”

David Amess MP. Pic: UK Parliament

While the settlement does not contain an admission of liability on the part of Micropathology Ltd, they have published a public statement regarding the case and committed to carrying out equality and diversity training.

The manager, who has not been named, said: “On behalf of both myself and Micropathology Limited, I accept that the circumstances surrounding the recording and subsequent transmission of what I thought was a private conversation with a third party individual was entirely regretful.

“In that conversation I referred to Mr Rai by name, which I acknowledge was entirely avoidable. I also regret any offence that the recording and later publication of the recording caused Mr Rai, or indeed any other individual who was presented with that recording.

“I would like to assure Mr Rai, that my comments to that third party individual and my subsequent comments made to the third party who brought the publishing of the recording to my attention, were not motivated by Mr Rai’s race or religion neither of which I knew. I can understand if it was construed this way but this was not my intention.

“I acknowledge that Mr Rai and any other individual who heard my comments to the third party, or read my subsequent email communications, were not to know, or be reasonably expected to know, the concern I expressed for the Claimant at the time of his departure from Micropathology. It was not communicated to me whether student welfare support or the university followed up with this.

“I accept that there are lessons to be learned from this experience, and this is why the Board and I are committing to a review of Micropathology Ltd policies and procedures. I, together with other senior staff, will also arrange for training on equal opportunities issues in the New Year. The Micropathology Board will also seek direction and recommendations from the Ethics Committee and I will accept and adopt those recommendations.

“I regret any upset, offence or distress caused and I would like to wish Mr Rai all the best in his future endeavours.”

The Equality and Human Rights Commission provided funding and assistance with the case and Mr Rai was also supported by the Islamophobia Response Unit (IRU) – an independent charity supporting people affected by Islamophobia.

Baroness Kishwer Falkner, Chairwoman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said:  “The manner of Waqas’s dismissal, and the comments subsequently made about him in an attempt to justify it, are totally unacceptable. Everyone has the right to go to work without worrying they’re going to be treated differently because of their race or religion.

“On this occasion the comments were shared publicly, but it doesn’t matter whether they were made in a lecture hall, a laboratory, an office or even in an email – discrimination should not be tolerated anywhere.

“As Britain’s equality watchdog, we will continue to use our unique powers to uphold the law and prevent discrimination in the workplace.”

The claimant lawyer Asif Timol of Fairmont Legal said: “Some terms have been so weaponised, especially with the current political climate that the implication as a Muslim, can have a huge impact.

“This case has had a significant impact on my client, but I hope the settlement will help heal the damage caused.”

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