Nottingham: why I have to speak out 1

June 26, 2008

It is with regret that I feel compelled to write to counter the assertions made by Sir Colin Campbell, vice-chancellor of the University of Nottingham, about the arrest and subsequent release of the "Nottingham Two": Rizwaan Sabir and Hicham Yezza (Letters, 19 June). I was Sabir's MA supervisor and was questioned by the police for several hours in relation to his case. I am very far from the usual politics department "agitator". I came to the sector after nine years as a "squaddie" in the Army, where I was used to keeping my head down and my mouth shut. In this case, I cannot keep my head down or my mouth shut. I believe an injustice has been done.

Sir Colin states that he authorised the release of "factually accurate statements". When these first appeared in the university, and as I was a central player in the whole imbroglio, I took issue with them. I composed a four-page rebuttal to the university authorities stating why such statements contained elements that were, indeed, factually "inaccurate". I received neither a reply to nor an acknowledgement of my letter.

Sir Colin also impugns my colleagues in the School of Politics who wrote an opinion article ("The Nottingham Two and the War on Terror: which of us will be next?", 5 June). If Sir Colin had been fully au fait with the facts surrounding the issue, and if he had seen police statements in regard to the case, then I am sure he would not have said that my colleagues' claims were "careless, entirely false and bear little relation to the facts". A number of us who have been involved in, and affected by, this affair have been concerned that senior management will not discuss the issue with us. Since they are not open to discussion, and since they do not have all the details at their disposal, they have been prone to making maladroit statements. A brief meeting would have cleared up much of the misunderstanding. But instead of talking to those involved, Sir Colin has aired his views in public in the letters pages of Times Higher Education. I believe this to have been impolitic at this juncture.

I was an undergraduate at Nottingham. This is my university, I like it and I like working here. But I cannot sit idly by and do nothing while such inaccurate and unfair comments are made.

Rod Thornton, University of Nottingham.

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