Former NUS president settles with union over antisemitism claims

Former NUS president settles with union over antisemitism claims

A former president of the National Union of Students is said to have accepted accepted a “substantial” settlement to end her legal action against the union following her dismissal over allegations of antisemitism.

Shaima Dallali was ousted as NUS UK president in November 2022 after an investigation claimed she had made “significant breaches” of the union’s antisemitism policies. But shortly before Dallali’s legal challenge was to be heard by an employment tribunal, the NUS and Dallali’s lawyers said a settlement had been agreed.

A joint statement read: “We are pleased to confirm that a settlement has been reached between Shaima Dallali and the National Union of Students, bringing an end to the proceedings before the employment tribunal.”

Dallali’s dismissal came after an investigation into antisemitism within the organisation, headed by a barrister, Rebecca Tuck, amid concerns over a social media post written 10 years earlier by Dallali that referenced a seventh-century battle between Muslims and Jews.

The NUS said it now accepted that “pro-Palestinian and anti-Zionist beliefs may be protected beliefs, as may pro-Zionist beliefs. As a private individual Ms Dallali is, and as president of NUS she was, entitled to hold protected beliefs.”

The NUS statement added: “Throughout this matter, Ms Dallali has suffered truly horrific abuse, which has included death threats, threats of sexual assault and flagrant Islamophobia. This is wholly unacceptable, and NUS categorically condemn it.

“Ms Dallali now has the right to move on with her life and her career free from harassment or abuse.”

While both sides said the terms of the settlement were confidential, people familiar with the case said it was likely that the union had paid Dallali’s legal costs and a further sum as part of the settlement.

The settlement follows a ruling earlier this year that David Miller, a former professor at the University of Bristol, had been unfairly dismissed over his anti-Zionist views, which qualify as philosophical beliefs protected under the Equality Act.

Tayab Ali, the director of the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians, said: “We now have clear legal recognition that criticism of Israel and of Zionism amounts to a protected belief and cannot be suppressed. This must be considered by universities before they decide to take any disciplinary or other action against their students.”

Dallali said: “I am an anti-Zionist and a proud pro-Palestinian. Following today’s settlement, I look forward to being able to focus on continuing to dedicate myself to the Palestinian cause and to serving my community.

“I am immensely grateful to those who have supported me during this difficult chapter in my life and I am pleased that all parties can now move on. Now more than ever, it is important that all communities come together for peace and justice.”

The NUS UK’s latest accounts revealed that the union spent more than £800,000 on the antisemitism investigation since 2022.

After Dallali’s election as president in March 2022, the NUS received complaints about her 2012 tweet that read: “Khaybar Khaybar O Jews … Muhammad’s army will return Gaza,” referencing a historical battle. Dallali later apologised for the tweet.

The joint statement issued on Tuesday said: “As has been noted repeatedly in the media, NUS was very concerned by a tweet that was written by Ms Dallali when she was a teenager, before she was even a student, in 2012.

“Ms Dallali has accepted that while it was not her intention, the tweet was antisemitic. Both parties accept that Ms Dallali has repeatedly apologised for that tweet.”