A Scots academic has lodged a  formal complaint with the head of the Scottish employment tribunals service over “insulting and inappropriate” comments made by the judge in her case.

Professor Jeanette Findlay lost her sex discrimination fight against the University of Glasgow but the institution has been urged to review its promotion procedures.

She claimed her application to be made a Professor of Economics was rejected by the university due to direct and indirect sex discrimination but the tribunal ruled against her.

Prof Findlay, who was promoted to the post a year later within the Adam Smith Business School, said her complaint to the President of the Employment Tribunals (Scotland) Judge Susan Walker, was not related to the judgement.

READ MORE: Jeanette Findlay loses University of  Glasgow sex discrimination fight 

It centres on comments made about her and her witnesses in the written judgement.

In it, Judge G Ian McPherson and the two non-legal panel members appear to accuse her of exaggerating a hearing impairment, describing her as “playing to the gallery”.

The 62-year-old, who lives in Springboig in Glasgow, represented herself in last year’s tribunal and said she was “astonished” by the comments this elicited.

At paragraph 69 ee, the judgement states: “She is not the average unrepresented party litigant whom the Tribunals come across daily – dismissed from employment, with no new job, and no regular income bar State benefits. 

“She has academic qualifications, a professional position in an academic institution, and she is in a continuing employment relationship with the respondent, and a substantial salary compared to the average employee’s weekly wages’’.

READ MORE: 'Shameful' failings over women in senior roles at Scots university 

Further on, in part 130, the judgement again makes reference to the fact that Prof Findlay did not appoint a lawyer to fight her case.


“She is an educated woman and a senior and experienced trade union officer, and, with that background, we are confident that she has many transferable skills, knowledge and understanding from her career and working history to date”.

She said: “ Is the suggestion here that I earn enough to pay for representation and therefore I should not be annoying this particular judge with my (clearly in his view) inadequate attempts to put my own case?  

“If he thinks that only those in receipt of benefits are unable to afford the services of a solicitor for a three-week hearing, preceded by numerous Preliminary Hearings then he clearly mixes in much wealthier society than I do.

“I am an academic; I am an experienced trades unionist (she is president of UCU Scotland) but that does not put me on equal footing with a qualified solicitor.  I have no experience of cross-examining or re-examining.”

She said the judgement also appeared to suggest that she was exaggerating a hearing impairment.

It states: “‘While she referred to a hearing impairment, and we took that into account by way of reasonable adjustments made for her, the claimant appeared to play to the public gallery, at certain points, particularly when giving her closing submission to the Tribunal.”


At least one of Professor Findlay’s witnesses is also thought to have complained to the tribunal President in relation to “ inappropriate” comments made about them and two others are said to be considering doing the same.

READ MORE: Oxford University leader tells tribunal he benefitted from 'male privilege'

Prof Findlay said she has made a formal complaint related to the conduct of Judge G Ian McPherson and the two non-legal members, Mr Frew and Mrs Anderson.

She said: “To be absolutely clear, my complaint is not in relation to the decision itself or the necessity to assess credibility of witnesses, but to the numerous unnecessary person insults which are at best, rude, and at worst themselves discriminatory. 

“I am still considering an appeal on the substantive matter but I felt it important for the President, Judge Walker, to be made aware of the experience of users of the service for which she is responsible. I am sure she will be as horrified as I was at its content.”

She also voiced anger about the “inappropriate” conduct of the university’s lawyer, Neil McLean.

She said: “He admitted in his submissions to observing me, without my knowledge, during the breaks in the hearing in order to make submissions about the effect of my employer’s conduct on me. “I don’t think people asserting their statutory rights should be subjected to this and the fact that I conducted myself in a professional manner in public should not be taken to mean I was not harmed by my treatment at the hands of my employers.”

A spokeswoman for the Judicial Office said, “A complaint has been received and will be investigated. “It would not be appropriate to comment further at this stage”. 

While the full panel rejected Prof Findlay’s claim of sex discrimination, the university was advised to review its mentoring, career development and academic promotion polices.

The tribunal was told that as of January 2020, there had never been a woman promoted to a Chair in Economics at Glasgow University in the entire history of the university from its foundation in 1451.

Professor Anton Muscatelli said during the hearing that it was “shameful” so few women were promoted to senior roles within the institution.