Stop the Witch Hunt

    Suspension and subsequent reinstatement of Jawad Botmeh, Max Watson and Steve Jefferys. See the campaign website here.

    UPDATE 21.02.2013:
    Reinstate Jawad, Max & Steve


    • On 22nd January 2013 the Vice-Chancellor threatened to de-recognise your UNISON Branch
    • On 7th February your Branch Chair, Max Watson, and the union-supported and newly-elected staff governor, Jawad Botmeh, were suspended.

    Please go to the news section for updates and how you can help: New website launched:

    • Send messages of support and solidarity to : encourage friends, colleagues in other institutions and your community to do the same
    • Donations to support our campaigning – cheques to ‘UNISON London Metropolitan University’ gratefully received,
      Chris Manna, UNISON Treasurer, Room TM 189, London Metropolitan University, 166-220, Holloway rd. N7 8DB

    Max Watson, your Chair, and Jawad Botmeh, the elected staff governor and a FSSH staff member at the Working Lives Research Institute, Jewry Street, have been suspended by the University pending investigation of a ‘serious matter of concern’ relating to ‘gross misconduct’. HR have failed to provide clear reasons for this, but we are told it relates to Jawad’s appointment to the University five years ago. We regard this as the latest in a series of escalating attacks on your democratic right to representation by your Union, in an attempt to weaken the defence of your rights UNISON are fighting for.

    SOME BACKGROUND… Jawad and Max have done nothing wrong. They have not in any way acted improperly and did not mislead HR regarding Jawad’s appointment as a staff member. We are completely convinced that Jawad’s 1996 conviction for conspiracy to cause explosions was an appalling miscarriage of justice. Amnesty International , UNISON’s National Delegate Conference and the MPs who signed an early-day motion all share this view. Local MP Jeremy Corbyn also takes this position on Jawad’s innocence and fully supports Max and Jawad  (see letter of support here).
    Regardless, Jawad declared his conviction on application to work at London Met, and legally has a right to be employed at the University. Indeed, London Met HR were made aware of Jawad’s conviction some time ago. UNISON are proud that Jawad is employed at the University, and that we work for a progressive institution (or so we thought) that actively supports the right to work, enshrined in article 23 of the Human Rights Act.  We are proud to have Jawad as a member of our Branch and also of the ongoing support UNISON has shown him over the years, shown by the motion passed at the 2003 UNISON National Delegate Conference (see above) which clearly advocates that Jawad’s conviction was unjust. JOIN THE LOBBY 2-3PM WEDNESDAY 13 FEB, ROCKET ENTRANCE TOWER BUILDING We urge ALL members to support Jawad and Max and attend a lobby 2.00-3.00pm Wednesday 13th February – Rocket Entrance, Tower Building. The short notice for the lobby is due to Jawad’s formal hearing being held this Wednesday at 2.30pm despite the fact that Jawad is on annual leave and unable to attend – please come and make your voice heard! Your Union has been there to support you and now we are asking you to support your Union.


    • Attend the Lobby.
    • Send messages of support and solidarity to : encourage friends, colleagues in other institutions and your community to do the same
    • Donations to support campaigning – cheques to UNISON London Metropolitan University gratefully received.
    A national mass of support is already building around both Jawad’s and Max‘s cases and will continue to grow. We feel Jawad has suffered enough and does not deserve a further injustice at the hands of London Metropolitan University. We are convinced that Max is being targeted purely because of the strength and leadership he has shown as your London Met UNISON Chair. An attack on Max and Jawad is an attack on all London Met UNISON members and we must stand shoulder to shoulder with them. We are prepared to take all actions necessary to defend Jawad and Max and therefore all our members’ rights to be represented.
    On behalf of the London Met University UNISON Branch Committee


    As President of UNISON I send my personal message of support to both Max and Jawad. These are clearly difficult times for them, the Branch and our members and I hope the process can be resolved swiftly. Of course I will ensure that UNISON provides every possible support and representation to our members and works to finding a resolution Chris Tansley UNISON President

    As the Chair of UNISON’s Higher Education service group executive, I would like to offer my support and solidarity to Max Watson, UNISON branch chair, and Jawad Botmeh, elected staff governor at London Metropolitan University. I have known Max for years and have always known him to be a hard-working, committed UNISON representative. He has worked tirelessly to represent UNISON members in Higher Education both individually and collectively, and he has also campaigned hard for the kind of HE system we want to see – publicly run, publicly funded, accessible to all. He has spoken up for the University and its students on matters like funding cuts and the UKBA crisis last year. UNISON will of course be fully supporting both Max and Jawad. I hope that the University sees sense as soon as possible, and lets Max and Jawad get back to working hard for students and for UNISON members in
    Denise Ward
    Chair, UNISON Higher Education Service Group Executive

    Dear all at Unison This is to show my support for these two gentleman who have worked tirelessly to make our working conditions bearable lets all stand up and be counted United we stand Kind regards Joanne Cana

    Dear London Met UNISON please accept the full support of health workers in Bolton against the outrageous witch hunting of 2 of your members Jawad and Max. It is disgraceful that a conviction – declared at the time, and one which Amnesty international believes he should never have been convicted of in the first place – is now being used to victimise Jawad. We believe this attack is taking place because they are active trade union members and representatives and should be completely deplored. Please let us know if there is anything we can do. Karen Reissmann Bolton Health
    I’m emailing to lend my full support to your defence campaign. Its disgraceful the way London Met is behaving. I trust you will achieve the justice you deserve and that this issue will be dealt with. This is a vicious attack on not just two committed and well-known trade union activists but on union organisation at London Met as a whole. Solidarity Ewa Jasiewicz Unite the Union Organiser, South East Region
    Dear sisters and brothers,
    We were shocked to hear of the suspensions of your union members and are only too aware of the increase in victimization of union members and activists in workplaces across the country. These injustices must be fought with the utmost effort and the collective strength of union members within the university and beyond. We offer our full support to your campaign and will do anything we can to help.
    Goodluck with your lobby. An injury to one is an injury to all.
    Kirstie Paton
    Greenwich NUT Committee
    We at Solent are standing with you in your fight. Tomasa Bullen
    Southampton Solent University


    I am writing to offer my full support and solidarity with Jawad Botmeh and your activities in relation to this. Unfortunately, I can’t join your activities in UK as I am not in the UK but will do my best to spread the message online. Are you on Twitter?


    Amjad Taha
    I am sending this message both as one of your National Executive members and on behalf of the Lambeth local government branch and our two thousand members. The victimisation of Max and Jawad appears to be a spiteful and vindictive act which threatens the most appalling injustice. UNISON at every level must – and I am sure will – respond to this attack with all our vigour and determination. Please accept my best wishes for this afternoon’s lobby, and those of the Lambeth branch. Keep us informed and let us know at every stage how we can help. An injury to one is an injury to all. Jon Rogers UNISON NEC Lambeth Branch Secretary
    Good luck in your struggle
    John Jones UNISON NEC
    Dear London Met, I won’t be able to attend your lobby at 2pm today as I will be representing a union rep in our branch at that time.  However we can support your branch and get Max and Jawad reinstated we will. I hope your members would feel strong enough to consider industrial action to defend these two. When I spoke at your AGM last year I talked about how effective your branch is on its campaigns and no one can doubt you have faced some incredible challenges. I admire the things your branch has done to defend workers and basic trade union principles. This is why, I believe, these 2 have been picked on. It is a crude attempt to “sort” you out. You have my support. Keep doing the right thing! Thanks, Helen Davies Branch Chair Barnet UNISON and NEC Greater London Representative
    Solidarity and support to you both in these awful and injustice of circumstances. Don let them grind you down! Beverley Woodburn Unite member
    Dear Colleagues I would like to add my support to  Max Watson and Jawad Botmeh against their suspension by London Metropolitan University. I am sure that you will win this battle with the University. Yours in solidarity Dr Steve French Senior Lecturer in Industrial Relations and HRM Keele University
    Dear London Met UNISON, I have just heard about the outrageous decision by the University to suspend Max and Jawad in advance of potential disciplinary action for gross misconduct. This is clearly a deliberate attack on trade union organisation at the University particularly as you made clear in your statement, the threats to derecognise UNISON. On behalf of UNISON members in schools in Camden we wholeheartedly condemn these action by the university. I am sending our solidarity in your campaign to bring about a quick re-instatement and can offer support for any intiatives you wish to make in the future to reach this end. Unfortunately I cannot make the lobby today so best of luck for it. Yours in solidarity, Hugo Pierre Camden UNISON CSF Co-convener
    Dear London Met Unison,
    I am writing to express my support for your campaign to defend Max and Jawad. This is another shocking act by London Met management against democratically elected representatives of workers, and its employees.
    I know Max and Jawad to be very dedicated, committed and hardworking campaigners for the union as well as staff making an extremely valuable contribution to the work of the Working Lives Research Institute over several years.
    I wish you all the best in the campaign to reinstate Jawad and Max and I will do what I can to support you.
    Dr Tessa Wright
    Senior Lecturer in Human Resource Management
    Centre for Research in Equality and Diversity
    School of Business and Management
    Queen Mary, University of London
    Dear London Met UNISON, I have learned through my political group (the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty) of the witch-hunting of two of your members, and am writing to express solidarity with them and with all members of your branch.  An injury to one is an injury to all.  I shall raise this issue at my UCU branch as soon as possible.  Good luck in your resolute resistance to these attacks. Dr Patrick Yarker University of East Anglia

    Dear London Met Unison branch, Want to send a message of support and solidarity for Jawad and Max and all of you there defending their rights. Sorry I can’t be there in person today. All the bestSophie (Birkbeck UCU Secretary)

    Dr Sophie Hope Department of Media and Cultural Studies Birkbeck, University of London
    I’m a part-time student at Working Lives and wish to record my support for, and disgust at the treatment of, both Jawad Botmeh and Max Watson.  I sent them individual messages of solidarity earlier today though I now understand that the University has disabled their e-mails and removed their computers.  The University is obviously punishing both of them for being such a thorn in the side of privatization at the university but they seem also now to be ignoring good practice in industrial relations.  I wish you success in your endeavours at representing them. In solidarity, Tish Gibbons
    Part-time Professional Doctorate student
    Working Lives Research Institute

    Solidarity to Max and Jawad – I hope you win the fight!  Sorry I couldn’t make the picket – only just learnt of your case.

    Best Wishes
    Bernard Regan NUT Trustee (Retired)
    Former Inner London NUT Exec Member
    Chair SERTUC International Committee
    UCL UNISON expresses solidarity with London Metropolitan University UNISON. We are appalled to hear of the suspensions of Max Watson and Jawad Botmeh by London Metropolitan University and are concerned that these actions represent an unjustified attack on the UNISON branch where Max has provided strong and clear leadership in his role as Branch Chair. We feel that Jawad has suffered enough and does not deserve another injustice at the hands of the University. The matter of his wrongful conviction in 1996 should be closed.
    Our branch has approved a donation of £200 towards your campaign. We must not allow LMU or any other employer to attack effective and successful UNISON branches by attempting to discredit key activists in this manner.
    Andre Burbidge Treasurer, UCL branch
    I wish to add my support for Jawad and Max. We cannot allow trade unionists to be victimized in such a way. There seems to be a new hard line management at London Met which is determined to grind down the unions and bully staff into submission. All the best in your struggle. Richard Richard Carabine Learning Co-ordinator, School of Business Economics & Informatics UCU Health & Safety Rep
    Birkbeck College
    Dear London Met Unison, I am a fellow Unison member and activist in Higher Education and I offer my full support to your branch over the targeting of members Max and Jawad.  This is not just a London Met issue, but one that affects all involved in campaigning for better terms for higher education support staff in the UK.  We all face the same issues, not least, getting universities to appreciaite the invaluable work undertaken by all support staff in HE in the face of recurrent cutbacks brought about by the new funding regime. Unfortunately, I was not able to make it to the lobby today, however, I will be raising this issue at our next Branch Committee meeting, following which, a message and action in support of your campaign from LSE Unison Branch will be forthcoming. Please let me know what I can do to help in the meantime. In unity, Paul Whitehouse Unison Steward London School of Economics
    I fully support your branch in its actions in defence of Jawad and Max. Their suspension is clearly an act of victimization.  Jawad Botmeh is totally innocent of the crime of conspiracy for which he served over 12 years in prison.  His lawyer, Gareth Peirce declared years ago that the British authorities know the truth of this miscarriage of justice and that that truth will be revealed one day. It is deplorable that the University authorities wish to punish Jawad further. In solidarity Betty Hunter Hon. President Palestine Solidarity Campaign
    Dear London Met UNISON branch, I am appalled to hear about the victimisation of Max Watson and Botmeh by London Metropolitan University. I am writing to formally declare my support for them in their fight against this injustice, which I have been made aware of by an email forwarded to our current branch secretary. Our branch will be sending a formal message of support and I will also encourage as many members as possible to do so individually. In solidarity, Catherine UNISON Steward, ULIA, Senate House Branch
    It is thanks to Max’ support and specifically Jawads’ huge effort and willingness to work way beyond his job description, that Working Lives has a vibrant first ever cohort of Doctorate students on the DProf course. I know this as I am one of those who has seen how dedicated and supportive Jawad has been to post grad students over the last 3 years. London Met has appalling central administration and management – laughable to those of us from the business communities who London Met aspires to engage. Jawad personally sorted out huge administrative nightmares for me, these restricted my ability to study and raised huge questions about London Mets’ ability to deliver what I had paid for, despite the excellent support of Working Lives teaching and support staff. Jawad directly addressed every issue I had and was the difference between me – and others – taking our research proposals to other Higher Educational establishments. I’m absolutely disgusted to hear about this today. I own two business’ and I’m exactly the type of person the Management at London Met should see as its target audience in relation to its business plan. The time-lag in Max’ suspension (how long ago was Jawad employed?), the highly questionable process that lead to this suspension and the treatment of both Max and Jawad proves the ever growing reputation London Met Management is building is accurate; that of an organisation that has no business acumen whatsoever, does not have the ability to manage staff and would be the last place I would look to be involved with professionally the day after my studies finish. I’m disgusted. Please let me know what support I can offer to expose and address the knee jerk badly planned victimisation short sighted managers have imposed on Max and Jawad. Best Dan Dowling Director
    Dear Unison,
    As a Unison member at London Metropolitan University, I would like to add my voice of support to Max and Jawad.
    Their sudden suspension is a worrying development in an institution I have proudly served for over seven years.
    I look forward to their reinstatement so that all parties at the university can work together for a better future.
    Yours sincerely,
    Julian Macho.
    Colleagues, At this afternoon’s Branch Committee of the Sheffield Hallam University branch of UNISON, the following Emergency Motion was passed unanimously: “This Branch resolves to send the following message of support to Max Watson and Jawad Botmeh at London Metropolitan University: Sheffield Hallam University UNISON branch are appalled at the actions of London Metropolitan University in suspending Max Watson, UNISON Branch Chair, and Jawad Botmeh, elected staff governor at LMU, on a vague and unsubstantiated charge of gross misconduct. We would like to express our solidarity with Max and Jawad and support for their reinstatement. We applaud the resistance the LMU UNISON Branch has shown against the introduction of “shared services” and job losses in recent years, and condemn any victimisation of activists by management at LMU.” Cheers, Dan Dan J Bye
    Branch Secretary

    Max and Jawad, Solidarity to you, I’m with you all the way fighting this outrageous attack on both yourselves and the London Met branch of unison. I am sorry I couldn’t be at the lobby today as I am travelling up to women’s conference, stay strong comrades. Marshajane Thompson Havering UNISON branch secretary *** I would just like to pass on my best wishes and solidarity greetings to Max and Jawad. This is a disgraceful attack on trade union activists and must be stopped. Your struggle is an inspiration to other trade unionists.

    I wish you all the best in your fight for justice.
    In solidarity
    Paul Rafferty
    Chair Unison AQA Branch
    Middlesex University Branch are outraged at the suspension by London Met University of Branch Chair Max Watson and his colleague Jawad Botmeh. We see this as a direct attack by London Met management on Unison activists and vehemently oppose any such attempts to undermine the effectiveness of their Branch. Middlesex University Branch send our comrades at London Met our full support and solidarity. Please let us know if there are any petitions or future lobbies we can attend or any further ways we can support our fellow Unison activists. Yours sincerely Middlesex University Branch
    I am very concerned to read about the suspension of UNISON representatives, Max Watson and Jawad Botmeh by London Metropolitan University.  I have worked with Max in national negotiations in JNCHES and always found him to be an honest and principled trade union representative who works for unity and speaks for the rights of low-paid workers.  Any action against trade union representatives is a serious attack on the collective right of a trade union to represent its members.  As many of you will be aware UCU is currently engaged in a major struggle over the defence of David Muritu, UCU Branch Secretary at Halesowen College, who was dismissed in December last year.  I hope Max and Jawad are reinstated. Best wishes for your campaign Elizabeth Lawrence UCU Regional Secretary Yorkshire and Humberside
    Our branch is shocked by Max’s suspension. Solidarity from our branch – we will send a donation, and do let us know if there is anything else we can do. Carole Carole Hanson
    University of Brighton Unison Branch Secretary
    Solidarity to Max and Jawad and all at London Met UNISON.  Your branch has been a source of pride and inspiration to the rest of us in UNISON Higher Education for years as you have fought one battle after another in horrific circumstances.  We will support you in this latest attack.  I am sorry I can’t be there today, but I have made sure the message has got out to as many people as possible, please keep me up to date with the campaign.
    Naomi Bain
    Birkbeck UNISON member
    Dear Friends Palestine Solidarity Campaign would like to express its support and solidarity to Max and Jawad, and we are wishing all the best to the campaign to get both him and Max reinstated, for them to be able to continue representing staff and members at London Met University and to campaign for justice everywhere. Martial Kurtz National Organiser
    Palestine Solidarity Campaign
    Please pass on my support to Max and Jawad. All strength to your campaign.
    Best wishes, Peter Hignell Learning & Teaching Support Supervisor

    Sussex University


    Dear Brothers & Sisters

    PCS union Defra Southern Branch send our solidarity greetings to Jawad and Max. We wish you well in your fight against victimisation and attacks on the union. We stand shoulder to shoulder with you.

    An injury to one is an injury to all!

    Matt Wells
    Branch Organiser


    Dear Sisters and Brothers,

    I am appalled at what appears to be an entirely unjustified attack on Max and Jawad,both highly respected ytrade unionists and members of LMU staff. This appears to be the latest in a long line of ill considered moves by the university’s management and seems unlikely to be nothing more than attack on the right of trade unionists to organise within the university.

    I am sure that all of my fellow UCU members will be as appalled as I am at this unjustifiable move by LMU management. I will do whatever I can to support UNISON’s efforts to defend Max and Jawad from further victimisation and to get them reinstated at the earliest opportunity.

    In Solidarity

    Rob Murthwaite

    LMU UCU Equalities Officers


    I would like to send a message of support to Unison and in particular to Max and Jawad. As a former student of London Met I am appalled at the action the university has taken.
    I wish you every success in this battle against blatant discrimination.
    Best wishes John McGhee


    Please accept solidarity greetings from Barnet UNISON. We have watched and supported your fights most recently against mass privatisation with much admiration.

    If there is anything we can do to support, publicise your campaign please let us know. We have been tweeting the campaign.

    Best wishes

    John Burgess

    Branch Secretary

    Barnet Unison


    We read yesterday of Max Watson’s suspension and were most concerned.
    We remember Max-and the other members of London Met Unison-with gratitude-for your help in our efforts
    to bring together UNISON members who used to work at our University.
    Best of luck!
    (acting retired members’ secretary)

    Dear UNISON London Met

    I was shocked to learn this morning about the suspensions of Jawad Botmeh and Max Watson. I wish you all, Jawad and Botmeh the best of luck in successfully defending this case and for Jawad in his hearing this afternoon, and I will be joining the rally at 1pm today.

    Please add me to your email list for updates on the case and I will ensure that information is circulated to our members here at City & Islington College.

    Best Wishes

    Adam Hartman

    UNISON Branch Secretary

    City & Islington College

    Dear London Met UNISONI am shocked to hear of Jawad & Max’s suspension by the management of London Met and want to express my full support. From my many years of working at the Working Lives Research Institue I know both as loyal, honest and hard working colleagues. Max and Jawad are making a valuable contribution by being colleagues, by the contribution they make to carrying out research and by their union engagement!Dr Andrea Winkelmann-Gleed, Senior Research Associate, University of East Anglia

    Dear colleagues,
    As a social researcher who has collaborated with WRLI in important projects, I would like to express my most strong support for Jawad and Max and the urgent need to lift their suspensions.
    I have always most appreciated the open, welcoming character of WRLI researchers and other staff, as well as their productive multicultural environment. This kind of witch hunting greatly endangers the continuity of an excellent research institution.
    Juan Carlos Revilla.
    Universidad Complutense de Madrid

    I would like to add my own message of support for Jawed as an ex-student of the Polytechnic of North London and also on behalf of my trade union branch.

    Laurie Pocock

    Branch Secretary

    Croydon UNISON


    1. […] the campaign to Defend Jawad and Max by emailing the […]

    2. […] Branch Chair Max Watson and recently elected Staff Governor Jawad Botmeh have been suspended by the University. Find out more of the background on our Campaigns page here. […]