Geoffrey Robertson to represent three of ‘Farthing Five’

Human rights barrister Geoffrey Robertson QC is to represent students suspended by the University of Sussex over an occupation at the institution

January 14, 2014

The Australian lawyer, who has acted as defence counsel in several high-profile cases related to freedom of speech, will accompany three of the so-called “Farthing Five” as they face disciplinary charges over a university occupation last month.

The suspension of the five students came amid other controversial demonstrations at university campuses before Christmas that led to questions being asked in Parliament about the right to protest.

Sussex vice-chancellor Michael Farthing lifted the suspensions after demonstrations in support of the students, but said disciplinary action would continue. A student disciplinary panel is due to take place at Sussex this Friday.

The three students who will be represented by Mr Robertson – Michael Segalov, Adriano Merola Marotta and Lewis Nielsen – say they will call evidence from five academics at Sussex and will submit letters of support from three MPs and a petition signed by almost 0 academics and PhD students at the university.

In a letter to the university from their solicitors, the students say there was no breach of university discipline and that “participation in peaceful protest and occupation does not breach any university regulation”.

In his letter to the students announcing their suspension, Professor Farthing said they had represented “a threat to the safety or well being of students, staff or visitors”, and “a potential hazard to sustaining the university’s policies on health and safety”.

jack.grove@tsleducation.com

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