The Israeli expert, who lives in Tel Aviv, had been due to lead a session for managers and union officials at the Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust last May when he received an email stating that Unison had to his presence and its members would boycott the event, apparently because the invitation to an Israeli academic was in conflict with Unison policy. Although the health union has a long-standing boycott of goods produced in Israel settlements in the West Bank, lawyers for the academic told 'The Independent' that they could find no lawful justification for an apparent ban on Israeli citizens.
Cristal's attorney Dinah Rose said her client’s treatment amounted to a form of racial discrimination under legislation which bans unequal treatment on grounds of nationality. Rose told the newspaper: “He is an Israeli national and of Jewish ethnic origin. This case is very important to Professor Cristal. It is also a case of considerable general public importance, because it raises the issue of circumstances in which it is unlawful both for public or for private bodies to seek to boycott people because they are Israeli or because of their association with the Israeli state.” She added that Cristal wanted to underline “his right to equal treatment without discrimination, particularly without discrimination on racial grounds.”