Leader: Leeds must endure Ellis

March 10, 2006

The case of Frank Ellis underlines once more how difficult it can be for universities to reconcile academic freedom with other legitimate concerns, such as the sensibilities of their students and the local community. Dr Ellis's views on race and intelligence will be abhorrent to many at Leeds University, and perhaps especially to the ethnic minorities in the region that the institution strives to attract. But, so far at least, he appears not to have broken the university's rules - or the law.

To make a martyr of Dr Ellis by bowing to students' demands for his removal would be naive, as well as wrong. His views have been well known in the university for at least four years and his students in Russian and Slavonic studies do not appear to have been corrupted. He will soon return to well-deserved obscurity if no action is taken. There are laws on race relations but, if they are not broken, academic freedom has to apply to extremes of right as well as left.

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