ESO statement on the removal of Tim de Zeeuw as a professor by the University of Leiden

26 października 2022

Leiden University has recently announced that a professor at the university has been found by the university’s Complaints Committee to have subjected colleagues to intimidating and unacceptable behaviour, including harassment. Media reports have named the professor as Tim de Zeeuw, who was ESO’s Director General from 2007 to 2017. This has now been confirmed by a statement to Physics World by a lawyer acting on his behalf.  

First and most importantly, we express our deep support and sympathy for the victims of this harassment. ESO is strongly against all forms of harassment, bullying and other unacceptable behaviour.  

At ESO, we are committed to creating a work environment that is safe and professional, where everyone is treated with courtesy, respect, and mutual trust, and where diversity and inclusion are valued. To this end, we have in place a respectful workplace policy, which applies to everyone working at or visiting ESO, and describes the process to make a complaint and the formal investigation procedure. We are committed to reviewing such existing procedures, to make sure they work as intended, and to develop any new measures that are needed.  

Tim de Zeeuw has had no formal attachment to ESO since he left in 2017. Following the confirmation of his identity, ESO has banned his access to all ESO premises and meetings with immediate effect, and will revoke access to his courtesy ESO IT account.   


Juan Carlos Muñoz Mateos 
ESO Media Officer 
Garching bei München, Germany 
Tel: +49 89 3200 6176 
Email: press@eso.org 

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