Byline: NEIL SEARS
THE London School of Economics has been seen as a bastion of forward thinking since it was at the centre of Sixties radicalism.
Yet it now faces having to pay out as much as [pounds sterling]100,000 in compensation after an employment tribunal found it guilty of blatant sexual discrimination against a leading female lecturer.
Helen Mercer, 43, author of an acclaimed book on business history, found herself overlooked for promotion a few months after suffering a miscarriage.
The post was given instead to a younger and less qualified man.
Senior professor Nicholas Crafts, it emerged, had simply not wanted to appoint a woman.
Dr Mercer, a mother of one, alleged that concerns over whether she would break her career in future to have more children were at the root of discrimination against her.
The tribunal found unanimously in her favour yesterday after she claimed direct and indirect sexual discrimination.
Dr Mercer, who lives in Lewisham, South-East London, with her husband Robert Hallam and their seven-year-old daughter, told how the LSE's refusal to give her the job was a crushing blow.
'It effectively ended my academic career. I felt robbed,' she said. 'If the LSE wouldn't have me after several years in the post, who else will have me?'
A former schoolteacher, Dr Mercer joined the LSE in 1995 on a three-year contract after lecturing at Leeds University. Reviewing her work in 1997, Professor Crafts said: 'Helen's performance has exceeded our best expectations. …