A PRIVATE Oxford college locked in a bitter lawsuit with a sacked employee who alleges homophobic bullying denied the claim at tribunal today – and cited her poor performance at work for her dismissal.

Carmel Conway claimed she was sacked from her £24,500-a-year job as an academic co-ordinator at the Oxford Business College on George Street after whistleblowing that bosses were embarking on a plan to recruit underage students, raising safeguarding issues.

Ms Conway, who lives in Oxford, took the firm to the tribunal for discrimination over sexual orientation, public interest disclosure and unfair dismissal.

Read our previous story on the case

The panel previously heard she believed college bosses were unhappy about her sexuality when she and her girlfriend became engaged and did not want to be associated with gay people due to a large attendance of Middle Eastern students.

The tribunal had previously heard that college bosses summoned her to a meeting where they tried to demote her. She was subsequently called into a disciplinary meeting which ended with her being sacked.

Ms Conway is legally trained and represented herself at the tribunal. She claimed that in spite of her 'excellent' performance at work she noticed a shift in attitude towards her, following her engagement to her partner in September 2016.

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Today she said: “I feel that my engagement to my partner triggered senior management to subject my work to a massive amount of scrutiny, as well as overloading me with work and failing to take action to do anything about inadequate resources.

“The senior management team did not like an openly gay staff member as the college’s income relied heavily on Middle Eastern students.

"My colleague has told me that Titikisha Shah, the joint owner of the college, was heard making very derogatory remarks about gay people.”

However tribunal judge Andrew Gumbiti-Zimuto, sitting in Reading, heard the allegations were vehemently denied by the college. It instead cited Ms Conway’s 'poor performance and punctuality at work', in a witness statement from college principal Gerry Takamura.

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Ms Takamura said: “There were concerns that the claimant was absent-minded and inattentive with this resulting in careless errors."

She went on to explain: "Certificates presented a real problem where the claimant would insert the wrong date, mis-position the date on the certificate, need an excessive amount of practice runs or print it in the incorrect font."

Oxford Mail:

Ms Takamura also disputed claims of homophobia, claiming the college had had 'a homosexual employee' for seven years.

Mr Gumbiti-Zimuto adjourned the tribunal at the end of the day yesterday for a reserved judgement to be published in early June.