David Allen's e-mail to Sue's Head of Department

05 November 2002 15:28

Dear Marcus

You mailed me about Sue's website. I've left a voicemail for you and am happy to discuss but thought I'd write with my views so that others can see them. I looked at Sue's site this morning and my view, shared by Jane [Director of Personnel], is that Sue has done nothing wrong. The site does not carry the University's logo and has a clear disclaimer that it is personal to Sue. It does not appear to breach our conditions of use. It does have a bham address and links to other sites but the University does host personal sites for academic staff provided they abide by the conditions of use. We may wish to review this at some time in the future since it is now so easy to set up a personal site through an ISP but the current position is that Sue's site is legitimate within our rules.

In the light of this, unless and until the site breaches our conditions of use or our policy on personal sites changes, we have no plans to remove the site. Academics are protected by Statute in order to enable them to "challenge received wisdom and express controversial or unpopular opinions within the law without losing their jobs or privileges." That is academic freedom which this University is pledged to maintain in our mission statement. The University as a corporate body has no opinion on Sue's views but defends her right to them, just as it would if she were advocating opposing views.

We have received numerous emails both supporting and opposing Sue's position. We do not have the resources to reply to them but if asked to make a statement Sue Primmer will follow the above line. Her previous comments were only partially quoted by the Jewish Chronicle and were in any case only a holding statement.

[last paragraph snipped as it contains several names and adds little]

Hope this helps. Happy to discuss of course.

David J. Allen
Registrar and Secretary
The University of Birmingham
Birmingham B15 2TT
Tel: 44 (0)121 414 3975
Fax: 44 (0)121 414 4534

This site is owned and maintained by Sue Blackwell.
Its contents are in no way endorsed by the University of Birmingham.
It was last updated on 25th November 2002.