Published: 15 March, 2012
by JOSH LOEB
A FORMER gender studies student at the London School of Economics (LSE) who had hoped to sue the institution for alleged sexism has had his case struck out.
Tom Martin, 39, who lives in Covent Garden, claimed he suffered “anti-male discrimination” while studying for a master’s degree in gender, media and culture at the world-famous university in Holborn.
Representing himself at his application for a trial at the Central London County Court on Tuesday, Mr Martin complained of a lack of men-only sessions in the university’s gym and the preponderance of posters in the corridors advertising services for women without the presence of similar materials geared towards men.
Mr Martin, who describes himself as a feminist, said “hard” chairs in the library were uncomfortable for men and that a “male blaming culture” was evident in course materials, which “ignored men’s issues” and focused on wrongs done by them.
Mr Martin told the court: “To perpetuate these stories about men being worse than they actually are when these gender experts are in receipt of the true state of affairs is discriminating. The effect of the negative stereotyping is stupefying.”
However, barrister Nick Armstrong, for the LSE, successfully argued that there were no grounds for moving to what would have been likely to be a long trial.
He said Mr Martin’s claim lacked legal coherence, adding that the bar claimants in discrimination cases had to cross to be successful had been set “fairly high” because of the subjective aspects of these cases.
He said Mr Martin would have had to prove that he experienced a “bullying-type scenario” at the LSE, adding: “Whatever Mr Martin says about all this, no objectively reasonable person would feel degraded or humiliated by posters on the wall or course content.”
District Judge John Taylor said: “What Mr Armstrong would have me say, and I use his words, is that this is a hopeless claim. This claim has in my opinion no chance of success at all.”
He said the court was not a forum for a wider discussion about the role of men in society but could only deal with the specifics of Mr Martin’s allegations that he personally was discriminated against.
The judge added that he agreed with Mr Armstrong’s argument that Mr Martin’s claim was too weak to have a reasonable chance of success in any trial.
An earlier application by Mr Martin for an adjournment was rejected, and permission to appeal was refused.
Mr Martin was ordered to pay the LSE’s legal costs subject to a financial assessment.