A don who won an age discrimination claim against Oxford University said its forced retirement policy is 'indefensible' and the case cast 'a dark shadow' over its human resources department.

Nicholas Field-Johnson, who is county councillor for Burford & Carterton North Division, was one of the four academics who were forced to retire at 68 under the university’s Employer Justified Retirement Age (EJRA) policy.

The policy was introduced to improve diversity and make way for younger staff.

But the judgment said while the desire to promote equality and diversity was legitimate, the retirement policy had contributed to this only in a very small way and was therefore not legally justified.

Mr Field-Johnson said the University "had no case and the judge was surprised the university took this to the tribunal".

He was hired in March 2017 and in July 2017 received a letter from the university's HR department informing him that he needed to retire in September 2019 under the EJRA provision.

He said: "Do you really hire some one and then notify them to retire within months?"

He said the EJRA review body of the university recommended in June 2022 that Grades 8-10 of the administrative staff be removed from the coverage of the EJRA as it "was not contributing to the achievement of the aims for these groups".

Mr Field-Johnson was Head of Development - a position that was Grade 9 Administrative staff.

He said: "The judge was curious why the university continued to pursue my case."

"EJRA is now divisive," he said. "It no longer applies to admin staff but still applies to academics? That’s discriminative."

"How many hundreds of thousands has the University spent on defending the indefensible? They lost against Paul Ewart twice and now they have admitted that they have no case against me as admin staff as the EJRA does not work."

In 2019 former head of atomic and laser physics Professor Paul Ewart won a landmark age discrimination case against the university after he was made to leave his post before his 70th birthday under the same policy.

He was reinstated and awarded nearly £30,000 in compensation.

Oxford University lost an appeal against the tribunal’s finding.

Mr Field Johnson said: "The University had really no case in reference to myself on which the judge agreed and the university had no right to forcibly retire me.

"This casts a dark shadow both on the university HR and those supporting EJRA."

Oxford is reviewing the tribunal’s ruling and could appeal.