Questioners apologise for Dunblane letter

January 17, 1997

BIRMINGHAM and Wolverhampton universities were at loggerheads this week over who was responsible for a controversial questionnaire sent to residents of Dunblane, where 16 children and their teacher were murdered last March.

The questionnaire on the psychological effects of the massacre was sent to 250 people. It was withdrawn after recipients branded it inappropriate and insensitive.

Birmingham vice chancellor Maxwell Irvine initially blamed Wolverhampton saying: "I deeply regret the distress which has been caused to the people of Dunblane by the letter which was sent to them by the University of Wolverhampton. The letter is insensitive and reveals, I regret to say, a lack of sound judgement. It was not seen by any member of this university. The involvement of this university would have been at a later stage and did not extend to the drafting of the letter nor deciding upon its distribution."

But now both universities have agreed the project was a joint piece of research. Wolverhampton University psychology lecturer Man Cheung Chung, whose work on the psychological after-effects of disasters is used to develop counselling techniques, was one of the people behind the questionnaire. His collaborator at the University of Birmingham is Peter Nolan of the department of nursing studies.

Jim Logan, dean of Wolverhampton's school of health studies, has written to apologise to each of the recipients of the questionnaire.

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