Lecturer accused of spying protests

February 11, 2000

Robin Pearson, the Hull University lecturer accused of spying for the East German secret police, has described the university's decision to suspend him from teaching until July 2001 as "unjustifiable".

In a statement released by his solicitor this week Dr Pearson, an economic history lecturer, said: "The university has made a decision which ... I believe to be unjustifiable. In order to protect my family from further media attention, I have no further comment."

Hull said Dr Pearson's salary will be "reduced by an appropriate amount" to finance additional teaching support in the department.

Hull launched an internal investigation last autumn after a BBC documentary, The Spying Game, alleged that Dr Pearson had not only spied for the East German police up to 1989, but that he had recruited other Britons to do so.

The solicitor general has decided not to prosecute Dr Pearson and four other Britons, including Melita Norwood, revealed as spies in the Soviet Mitrokhin papers.

A university statement said the investigation had only focused on issues relating to Dr Pearson's time at Hull. It said: "These concerned events several years ago, but affect the present relationship of trust between Dr Pearson, his students and colleagues."

The suspension period ensures any students enrolled on Dr Pearson's courses at the time the allegations were made will have graduated.

Jenny Willmott, president of Hull University's student union, said: "Students of Dr Pearson felt they had been betrayed by him. Anyone enrolling on his courses in the future will know all about this situation when they apply, so it will be their own choice."

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