Who are the real victims?

January 14, 2016

In a somewhat martyr-like fashion, Stefano Bonino grumbles about the ink he spilled writing an earlier article defending the employment of former police spy Bob Lambert in a university environment (“Hunting the wrong witch”, Letters, 7 January). In that previous article, Bonino acknowledged that the Special Demonstration Squad, which Lambert rose to lead, infiltrated “legitimate and peaceful protests” and engaged in “a series of unethical and possibly illegal activities”. But in his latest letter, Bonino says that the infiltrated groups were “posing a threat of public disorder and/or political violence”. This revised description is clearly untrue for many of the infiltrated groups, and SDS member-turned-whistleblower Peter Francis has stated that the SDS spied on several unions, including the National Union of Students, the National Union of Teachers and Unison.

Bonino’s own sympathies are revealed in the language he uses. If you criticise or protest against academics for things they have done or said, you are apparently engaged in a “mob-style attack”. It is this kind of paranoia about people exercising their democratic rights that leads to the kinds of police abuses under discussion.

Bonino’s letter continues with a scornful and disgraceful reference to “former Guantanamo Bay detainees being heralded as human rights champions”, the clear implication being that people held without charge for years by a state that led an illegal war and engaged in torture (facilitated by the American Psychological Association) must nonetheless be guilty of something. Bonino’s implied contempt for a basic principle of justice is breathtaking.

Bonino is entitled to his opinion that Lambert deserves a position in the university sector. However, he undermines his own authority on the matter by resorting to self-contradicting inaccuracies and slurs against innocent victims of the West’s so-called War on Terror.

David Hardman
Secretary, London region University and College Union
Secretary, UCU at London Metropolitan University


Send to

Letters should be sent to: THE.Letters@tesglobal.com

Letters for publication in Times Higher Education should arrive by 9am Monday. View terms and conditions.

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

United Nations peace keeper

Understanding the unwritten rules of graduate study is vital if you want to get the most from your PhD supervision, say Kevin O'Gorman and Robert MacIntosh

Eleanor Shakespeare illustration (5 January 2017)

Fixing problems in the academic job market by reducing the number of PhDs would homogenise the sector, argues Tom Cutterham

Houses of Parliament, Westminster, government

There really is no need for the Higher Education and Research Bill, says Anne Sheppard

poi, circus

Kate Riegle van West had to battle to bring her circus life and her academic life together

man with frozen beard, Lake Louise, Canada

Australia also makes gains in list of most attractive English-speaking nations as US slips