The Mancunion

Britain's biggest student newspaper

Suspended MMU Prof offered job back

Professor Ian Parker is expected to appeal the decision, which requires him to issue an apology

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The internationally renowned Psychology Professor suspended on charges of “gross professional misconduct” has been offered his job back by Manchester Metropolitan University.

Professor Ian Parker’s suspension in October sparked a campaign by students and academics calling for his reinstatement. An online petition has received almost 4,000 signatures from around the world, including from the world-renowned American philosopher Noam Chomsky.

But Prof Parker is expected to appeal the recent decision, since MMU’s offer hinges on him making an apology and being issued a “final written warning”.

The University and College Union (UCU), of which Prof Parker is a member, claimed that “the hearing was not conducted fairly”.

In a statement, they continued: “There is an admission in the letter from the disciplinary panel that sending emails questioning secrecy and control was the sum total of Ian’s crimes.”

Two emails purported to be the offending items, seen by The Mancunion, show Prof Parker emailing other members of staff about organising a “workload schedule” and questioning the unclear process used to appoint a new Senior Lecturer in Psychology.

Prof Parker was banned from his office, had his email access suspended and was told not to contact other staff or his students.

Most students and staff were only alerted to the events several days later when the campaign was launched in protest to his treatment.

Amanda Jayne Morgan, a Master’s student of Critical Disability Studies, said: “This issue is impacting on students.

“As a student representative for Master’s students, I’ve had lots of emails from people who are concerned about Ian. No-one knew where he had gone.

“He’s been missed very much. It’s awful the way he’s been treated.”

A statement released by the UCU Branch Committee on Prof Parker’s behalf said: “This action by MMU is clearly an attack not only on me but also on my students, who are asking what I have been charged with.

“The most pernicious effect of this suspension and disciplinary action is that the secrecy enforced by MMU is damaging not only their own reputation but also my reputation.”

Prof Parker is a leading figure in the field of Critical Psychology and is linked to the editorial boards of over a dozen journal and book series. 

At the time of writing he was travelling back to the UK from a Far East book tour to confirm his next course of action with UCU.

MMU refused to comment on the issue, saying: “It’s private and confidential as far as we are concerned.”

The institution previously claimed that “external speculation” about the reasons for the suspension was “wholly inaccurate”.