Lecturer’s two years of hell for saying dress had ‘racy decolletage’: Fashion tutor gets apology after being suspended over outfit descriptions such as ‘hot mama’
A fashion lecturer has won an apology after being suspended when students claimed he sexualised outfit descriptions by using phrases such as ‘racy decolletage’ and ‘hot mama’.
Peter Huffam, 55, fought a two-year legal battle against the University of Arts London (UAL) over the suspension from his ‘dream job’.
‘It has derailed my career, I have done this for 30 years and worked at 19 different universities all over the world,’ he said. ‘I was really happy, this really was my dream job.
‘Then it all came tumbling down. I couldn’t believe it. I thought it was a case of mistaken identity at first – it was so surreal, it was almost comical.’
Peter Huffam, 55, fought a two-year legal battle against the University of Arts London (UAL) over the suspension from his ‘dream job’
The lecturer had been asked to broaden the fashion vocabulary of overseas students from countries including China, Russia and South Korea on the graduate diploma in fashion at the world-famous Central Saint Martins, part of the UAL.
He asked students to complete an exercise which involved matching six descriptions about style during Milan Fashion Week from newspaper articles to six photos of the outfits.
One newspaper’s description of a photo of a woman said: ‘Add a lick of purple lippy and some embellished heels and this look makes for one hot mama.’
Within days of the lesson in October 2019, three students complained that Mr Huffam had been ‘inappropriate’ and had made them feel uncomfortable. They said he had used language including ‘racy decolletage to describe a bustline’, and the class was ‘sexualised’.
Outfit: Look from 2013 Milan Fashion Week was described as ‘hot mama’
Mr Huffam was reinstated after three months and the University of Arts London (file image) has now admitted he was wrongly disciplined
Mr Huffam, a former magistrate, said the articles were used, but he never read the words out himself. ‘I was furious… I couldn’t at the time even pronounce decolletage and decollete.’
Mr Huffam’s next lesson with the students was cancelled and he was suspended. He was reinstated after three months and the university, where Stella McCartney studied, has now admitted he was wrongly disciplined. It wrote to Mr Huffam apologising for his suspension, admitting it had been ‘mishandled’.
The lecturer, who has been signed off with work-related stress, is seeking compensation from the university.
UAL said: ‘The university is not able to comment on individual cases and complaints.’
Whitehall ‘ban on woke speakers’
Civil servants have been banned from inviting ‘woke’ speakers who criticise Boris Johnson to give Whitehall addresses, according to reports.
A leaked document warns that invitations should not be issued to those who have ‘spoken against key government policies’.
Speakers should be subject to ‘due diligence’ checks and have their social media posts examined, the email obtained by The Sunday Telegraph said. It comes after several controversial speakers were asked to address Whitehall employees, including an anti-racism trainer who made anti-Semitic remarks.
Cabinet Office minister Steve Barclay is overseeing a civil service diversity and inclusion strategy. Tory sources see this as an opportunity to eradicate ‘woke and politicised’ practices in Whitehall, the newspaper reported.