The education secretary is using “completely misleading” and “dubious” research to justify introducing new legislation on free speech in universities, according to the head of #Cardiff University.
Prof Colin Riordan, vice-chancellor of Cardiff, a member of the prestigious Russell group, says a key example cited in the report, and mentioned in the Commons, is untrue and needs to be fully corrected for the record. It said that his university allowed the feminist Germaine Greer to be no-platformed in 2015 on the grounds that she had made “transphobic” comments. This never happened, he says – the event went ahead.
Riordan says: “The research this is all based upon is completely misleading. There was a campaign against Germaine #Greer speaking, and we had to consider whether to cancel the event – and we didn’t. It is exactly the opposite of what has been suggested: the event went ahead.” He says on a personal level he had some sympathy with the views of the protesters at the time, but felt his university had a duty to uphold free speech, and Greer was a professor at Warwick University.
Riordan says he is furious the facts are still being ignored. “David Davis cited the episode in his private member’s bill on free speech just last month, and others have quoted it as though it is fact.“ It isn’t.
Richard Wynn Jones, professor of Welsh politics at Cardiff, who attended Greer’s lecture at the university in 2015, says he found it “jaw-dropping” to read research saying it never took place. “I am outraged that this alleged event in Cardiff keeps being brought up …“
He says the Greer case was clearly the one where the authors felt they had the best evidence for feelings being prioritised over free speech. “Supposedly this was someone who was a fearless feminist of her day being closed down by a woke mob while the university stood by. But that is absolutely, categorically untrue.”