Free-speech champion may be sent to library

October 2, 1998

Free-speech champion Suzi Clark has lost her internal appeal against redeployment at the University of Middlesex.

Ms Clark, the university's head of media relations, has in essence been gagged. She was suspended in April this year from her media relations post after a disagreement over her role as editor of North Circular, the university's in-house newspaper, once called "the free voice of the university" before a change of vice-chancellor.

She had become embroiled in a row over censorship, and fell out with senior managers who had blocked an article that was uncomplimentary about the university and that had attacked a "culture of fearful conformity" at the university.

Her determination to maintain the paper's 25-year history of editorial independence against the university's wishes had led to a loss of confidence in her work by vice-chancellor Mike Driscoll.

The university this week confirmed that Ms Clark will be redeployed within six months to a "suitably alternative post which will utilise her skills and abilities". It is expected that she will be made a librarian.

Ms Clark - still on the payroll - could not comment about the case, and the university said it was "a private matter". But her views are made clear in a paper she has written for her professional association, the British Association of Communications in Business.

"Students come to university to learn the art of argument, of civilised confrontation and the thrust and parry of debate," she wrote.

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