Friday, four students suspended from the University of Sussex, and now being dragged through politically motivated internal disciplinary hearings, were told that the proceedings would not go ahead, in light of the fact that the Chair of the panel was politically biased, not impartial, and thus unable to continue in his role.
The entire process has been dissolved, and the University will now be forced to consider whether their kangaroo court will reconvene in a new form, faced with accusations of breaching human rights legislation, and neglecting to adhere to their duties under the Education Act, alongside national pressure from MP’s, students and staff.
Pro VC Prof Michael Davies was forced to step down from his position on the panel, as his record and position would make the ability of the panel to act in an unbiased manor impossible. Four barristers, including Geoffrey Robertson QC and Paul Bowen QC, forcefully submitted to the panel that the hearings should be held in a public setting, as ‘justice must be seen to be done ’ and that the make up of the panel was unacceptable. This was backed by a letter from over forty Sussex Professors, casting into doubt the ability of Pro VC Davies to be involved.
‘Today just shows that management at Sussex are entirely incompetent, and our suspensions and the current processes are nothing more than an ideological attack on student protest’ Lewis Nielsen
The students are facing disciplinary action for their involvement in legitimate and peaceful protest, in an attack on the right to protest and democracy on our campuses.
‘The presence of our legal team today just shows how much is at stake in this. I believe our rights to freedom of speech and assembly are being illegalyattacked, as do all of our supporters. The role of the public University is to encourage critical thinking, and the administration at Sussex seem to oblivious to this.” Michael Segalov
The lawyers, witnesses and students walked out of the hearing to a crowd of students and staff braced the rain to show their support for the campaign and the students involved. Geoffrey Robertson QC addressed the rally, saying:
‘If theses students had been suspended, disciplined, or even fined, that would be a very bad precedence for Universities across the country. The amount that is at stake is precisely why me, and my colleagues from Doughty Street Chambers have come down to today to the University of Sussex.’
Geoffrey Robertson QC
Today comes only weeks before a National demonstration and meeting of students in Birmingham, called by groups across the country, to discuss how to escalate the current resurgence in student activism.
‘These knee jerk and draconian disciplinaries which are being seen here and in Birmingham already, are indicative of senior managers across campuses fear of the vociferous critique of the marketisation sweeping over higher education. Management continue to prioritise disciplinaries over dialogue.’
Adriano Merola Marotta
Geoffrey Robertson at Sussex University Supporting Student Protest:
Sussex student protesters’ hearing collapses
Sussex University students hearing bias?