A letter has been sent to Vice-Chancellor, urging him to clarify the University’s position after it was revealed by the Guardian that Cambridgeshire constabulary had approached an undergraduate to become an informer on the political activities of students. The letter has been signed by over 130 senior members of the University, and can be read below. It was also reported on in a follow-up story in the Guardian.

Dear Vice-Chancellor,


We are writing to you with regard to the story published on the Guardian’s website on November 14, 2013 entitled “Police tried to spy on Cambridge students, footage shows.” (The link is available at http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/nov/14/police-cambridge-university-secret-footage [1]). Based on secret filming, the story indicates that Cambridgeshire Constabulary has engaged in covert surveillance of what one of its members terms “student-union type stuff.” Cambridge Defend Education, environmental groups and UK Uncut appear to have been among the groups targeted for highly invasive practices.

We know that as the head of an institution which is committed to protecting a diversity of legitimate and peaceful student activities, including political and social campaigning, you will share our grave concern at the level of intrusion that appears to be intended in such covert monitoring of legitimate activities. We cannot help but feel that the very threat of such unjustifiable surveillance will have a chilling effect on students involved in or hoping to join campaigning organisations. As teachers and researchers at this university committed to the highest standards of academic and personal freedom, we ask that you issue an official statement condemning such covert practices, which infringe the traditional boundaries of University self-governance, and call for an official explanation and apology from both the Home Office and from Cambridgeshire Constabulary.

We hope that you will make it clear that the University is in no way involved in supporting such practices.

Yours sincerely,

  1. Dr Anne Alexander
  2. Dr Anna Alexandrova
  3. Dr Salim Al-Gilani
  4. Dr Lori Allen
  5. Dr Mete Atature
  6. Dr Hugues Azerad
  7. Dr Debby Banham
  8. Professor Basim Musallam
  9. Mr Bruce Beckles
  10. Dr Andrew Bell
  11. Dr Duncan Bell
  12. Dr Patricia Pires Boulhosa
  13. Dr Adrian Boutel
  14. Dr Deborah Bowman
  15. Dr Siobhan Braybrook
  16. Dr Brendan Burchell
  17. Professor Bill Burgwinkle
  18. Dr Catherine Burke
  19. Dr Christopher Burlinson
  20. Dr Sarah Cain
  21. Dr Adam Caulton
  22. Dr Jean Chothia
  23. Dr Mike Clark
  24. Dr David Clifford
  25. Dr Philip Connell
  26. Professor Helen Cooper
  27. Dr Hilary Cremin
  28. Mr Tim Cribb
  29. Dr Jon Crowcroft
  30. Dr PJ Cunningham
  31. Dr Mark Darlow
  32. Dr Susan Daruvala
  33. Dr Christine Doddington
  34. Professor Brad Epps
  35. Dr Amy Erickson
  36. Professor John Forrester
  37. Dr Katrina Forrester
  38. Professor Alison Finch
  39. Dr Lorna Finlayson
  40. Dr Christophe Gagne
  41. Dr Sinead Garrigan-Mattar
  42. Professor Vic Gatrell
  43. Professor Raymond Geuss
  44. Dr Martin Golding
  45. Mr David Goode
  46. Professor Raymond Goldstein
  47. Dr Caroline Gonda
  48. Dr Priyamvada Gopal
  49. Professor Robert Gordon
  50. Dr Mia Gray
  51. Professor Nicholas Hammond
  52. Dr Fride Haugen
  53. Mr Ronald Haynes
  54. Dr Anita Herle
  55. Dr Adam Higazi
  56. Dr David Hillman
  57. Dr Edward Holberton
  58. Dr Alex Houen
  59. Dr Sarah Houghton-Walker
  60. Dr Sarah Howe
  61. Dr Jana Howlett
  62. Dr Michael Hrebeniak
  63. Dr MEJ Hughes
  64. Dr Joel Isaac
  65. Professor Mary Jacobus
  66. Dr Hubertus F. Jahn
  67. Dr Ian James
  68. Professor Simon Jarvis
  69. Dr Charles Jones
  70. Dr Ewan James Jones
  71. Professor Martin Jones
  72. Dr Alexandre Kabla
  73. Mrs Anny King
  74. Professor John Kinsella
  75. Professor Peter Kornicki
  76. Dr Mary Laven
  77. Dr Sian Lazar
  78. Professor Angela Leighton
  79. Dr Elisabeth Leedham-Green
  80. Dr Malachi Macintosh
  81. Professor Maria Manuel Lisboa
  82. Dr Raphael Lyne
  83. Dr Maryon McDonald
  84. Dr Robert Macfarlane
  85. Dr Jane McLarty
  86. Dr Laura McMahon
  87. Dr Leo Mellor
  88. Dr Roderick Mengham
  89. Dr Thomas Jeffrey Miley
  90. Dr Renaud Morieux
  91. Prof Clément Mouhot
  92. Dr Drew Milne
  93. Dr C W R D Moseley
  94. Dr Subha Mukherji
  95. Professor Basim Musallam
  96. Dr Eva Nanopoulos
  97. Dr Mary Newbould
  98. Dr Sebastian Nye
  99. Dr Rory O’Bryen
  100. Dr Tamsin O’Connell
  101. Dr Roger O’Keefe
  102. Dr George Oppitz-Trotman
  103. Dr Fred Parker
  104. Dr Ian Patterson
  105. Dr Adriana Pesci
  106. Dr Brechtje Post
  107. Dr Robert Priest
  108. Mr Jeremy Prynne
  109. Dr James Purdon
  110. Dr Judy Quinn
  111. Dr Surabhi Ranganathan
  112. Dr Lucy Razzall
  113. Professor Diane Reay
  114. Dr Nicky Reeves
  115. Dr John Regan
  116. Dr James Riley
  117. Dr Annie Ring
  118. Dr John Robb
  119. Professor Ulinka Rublack
  120. Professor Simon Schaffer
  121. Dr Jason Scott-Warren
  122. Dr Sharath Srinivasan
  123. Dr Zoe Svendsen
  124. Dr Trudi Tate
  125. Dr Deborah Thom
  126. Professor David Trotter
  127. Dr Eva Urban
  128. Ms Isobel Urquhart
  129. Dr Vincenzo Vergiani
  130. Dr James Wade
  131. Dr Christopher Warnes
  132. Dr Ruth Watson
  133. Mr Steve Watts
  134. Dr Teresa Webber
  135. Dr Flora Willson
  136. Dr Ross Wilson
  137. Dr Edward Wilson-Lee
  138. Dr Hope Wolf
  139. Dr Oliver Wort
  140. Dr Nicky Zeeman
  141. Dr Andrew Zurcher



Almost two years after Cambridge students interrupted David Willetts’ ‘lecture’ at Lady Margaret Hall, many of us were pleased to see him presented with a giant ‘fuck you’ at the Oxford Union.

On 29 June 2012, the Septemviri heard Owen Holland’s appeal against his rustication for seven terms, the original punishment imposed on the PhD student for his participation in a protest against Willetts that took place in November 2011. The sentence was reduced to one term, while the guilty verdict was upheld. Jeremy Prynne, a senior member of the University who attended the appeal hearing as an observer, responded to this outcome here.

For some context to this case, go here for the perspective of a University Officer on the situation. A ‘Discussion’ on the subject was held in the University on 24 April 2012. A record of what was said can be found here.

An official record of the first internal court proceedings against Mr Holland was leaked to the student press. A link to a .pdf version of the full document was sent anonymously to CACHE, and is available here [the student newspaper The Tab published the document in full: it is therefore considered by the editors of this blog to be in the public domain].

Documents revealing parts of the University disciplinary process against Mr Holland were released under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, and can be read here.



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