Hearing for silent press officer

June 12, 1998

The head of press relations at Middlesex University, Suzi Clark, faced a disciplinary hearing this week over her relationship with the press, writes Phil Baty.

Ms Clark, who also edits the university's in-house newspaper, was suspended in April after a free-speech row. A university governor and philosophy lecturer said that an article he had written criticising a restructure at the university had been "censored". Ms Clark had agreed to publish the article, but her line manager, director of marketing Joe Ormerod, intervened. The article was spiked after failure to agree an edited version.

The row did not lead directly to the suspension. Evidence from Middlesex vice-chancellor Michael Driscoll says: "My confidence finally collapsed completely over (Ms Clark's) involvement in an article published in The THES." He took exception to her decision not to comment and to refer inquiries to Mr Ormerod. "By responding I in the way she did," Professor Driscoll said, "she gave tacit support to the attack on the university".

Ms Clark, who has not cooperated with The THES, was due to face her hearing as we went to press. Her union, Unison, which is fighting the charges, would not comment, nor would Mr Ormerod.

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