For the JC July 31 2020
The lecturer who was fired by Southampton Solent University for saying that Jewish people were among the cleverest in the world has said that he was “marched out in front of my students like a thief” by three women from the university’s HR department.
Stephen Lamonby also revealed that his accuser, Dr Janet Bonar, another Solent lecturer, was not present at any of the disciplinary proceedings that took place before he was fired for “gross misconduct”.
Dr Bonar had complained to the university bosses that Mr Lamonby expressed “racist” views in a private conversation in March 2019.
During a canteen meeting with Dr Bonar, Mr Lamonby voiced his belief that “the Jews are the cleverest people in the world” and were “much maligned because of it”. He also said he had a “soft spot for young black males” who needed “all the help they can get” because they were underprivileged and many had no fathers.
Germans were good at engineering, he said, because they were exposed to industry at an early stage in their lives.
The university, while saying it was “pleased” with the outcome of the industrial tribunal, refused to discuss why Dr Bonar had not given evidence.
A distressed Mr Lamonby, 73, told the JC he had “never seen Dr Bonar again” after their conversation in March 2019.
Dr Bonar, who had become the new head of the engineering department, had asked Mr Lamonby, a part-time lecturer at Solent for six years, to meet to discuss improvements to the course.
Mr Lamonby had been an engineer who worked extensively in the film industry — including on two Spielberg films, Band of Brothers and Saving Private Ryan. He taught in both Solent’s special effects classes and its mechanical engineering department.
It was because of his enthusiasm for his physics hero Albert Einstein that Mr Lamonby had asked Dr Bonar if she, an American physicist, was also Jewish. She took great offence and “stormed out”, according to Mr Lamonby, who said that there had been no witnesses to the encounter.
After their meeting, Dr Bonar sent Mr Lamonby an email thanking him for meeting and offering another meeting the following week. She added that they should “do more planning of engineering teaching” rather than “discuss our wildly different views of race and national characteristics”.
But Mr Lamonby did not see her email and sent one to her saying that she had shouted at him and treated him like a schoolboy.
“That set her off and she sent an email to her boss, saying I was a totalitarian, an entrenched racist, and also implying that I was radicalising students. It was all rather nasty.” He added: “If I had ever been racist in those six years, the students would certainly have brought it to light”.
After Mr Lamonby was told that disciplinary proceedings were to begin, he asked for a meeting with the dean and Dr Bonar, but this was refused. Mr Lamonby said “all doors of all universities are now locked to me because I was sacked over a racial issue. It couldn’t be worse”.
A petition to reinstate him, started by the Jewish activist Jonathan Hoffman, has attracted 768 signatures.
He said: “I wasn’t saying that Jewish people were cleverer than anyone else. Einstein’s thought processes were so advanced, it’s almost like he came from another planet, and he is now enabling us to understand the whole of the universe.
“What I was singling out was that depending on where you lived in the world, you became better at certain things… Jewish people’s mindsets have developed very interestingly. I think the world owes a great debt to Jewish people”.
A Solent University spokesperson said: “We are pleased with the outcome of this hearing and its reflection of Solent’s commitment to our university values, and to promoting equality, diversity and inclusivity for everyone who works and studies with us.”