An anti-fascist organisation backed by the University and College Union is calling for a Birmingham City University lecturer to be sacked after he was named on the internet as a member of the British National Party.
The lecturer has denied that he is a current BNP member.
Unite Against Fascism has launched a petition calling for Andrew Glover, a visiting music lecturer at the Birmingham Conservatoire, which is part of the university, to be removed from his post.
Dr Glover's name was on a list of BNP members that was leaked last year and published on the internet.
This week he told Times Higher Education: "I have no connection with any political party, least of all extreme groups." Pressed whether he had ever been a BNP member, he said: "I am not a member of any political party and believe wholeheartedly in the diversity position held by my university. My research entails studying music from societies around the world, which gives me a love of many cultures. How can that make me a right-winger? ... For these extreme left-wingers to be baying for my blood is ridiculous. This is 2009. The way they demand things is former Eastern Bloc or Third Reich, not a 21st-century diverse Britain.
"This has all the hallmarks of a 1950s McCarthy witch-hunt ... Higher education is not a political football that Right or Left should be allowed to kick around, especially when innocent people such as myself get caught up in it. It is about time that we moderates reclaimed it and removed it from the extremists' agenda."
Unite Against Fascism and another organisation, Love Music Hate Racism, launched a petition headlined "No to Racism and Fascism in our Education System". A Unite Against Facism spokesman said: "Members of the fascist BNP should not be allowed into our education system. Students put their trust in lecturers and have a right to be taught by people who will not judge them as inferior because of their skin colour, sexuality or for any other reason. We demand that Andrew Glover be removed from his role at Birmingham City University."
Rose Mitchell, a second-year student who initiated the petition, which has attracted 300 signatures to date, said she had been shocked by allegations that Dr Glover was a BNP member. "He teaches students from all over the world. I don't have any evidence that he has behaved in a racist way towards students," she said, adding that the allegation that he was involved in a far-Right party was "very worrying".
Sally Hunt, general secretary of the UCU, said: "Universities and colleges are rightly held up as examples to the rest of society because of their diversity and tolerance. The BNP has no interest in sharing those values and preaches only hate and fear."
A Birmingham City spokesman said: "A review is now under way after a series of public allegations. The university accepts that the political beliefs of its staff are a private matter - but we also want to make clear that if such views affect that person's work and professional relationships, then the university will carefully consider its response. The university positively promotes diversity and is proactive in tackling any kind of discrimination or prejudice on its campuses."
Times Higher Education