what about Chris Brand?

Last evening I attended a very interesting talk by Angela Saini in conversation with Dr Shaira Vadasaria about the concept of race, from its origins to the present day.

It was an event hosted by Race.ED and was very good.

During her talk Angela mentioned Chris Brand and his time at Edinburgh, and suggested it was worth having a think about why he was here so long.  I was a student at the time. I remember Chris Brand. The anti-nazi league used to protest his lectures and security was brought in to protect him. He was fired after 27 years in 1997.

I thought I remembered that  there had been quite a long, drawn-out process to remove him, because of academic freedom. In the end, I think I remembered that it was the IT regs which brung him down, because he was writing offensive stuff on the university hosted website.

I was not 100% sure on this memory so I had a little rumage today.  According to contemporary reports, he was fired for conduct that “brought the university into disrepute” but the University had to change its statutes to do so.

“The procedures Edinburgh University used in the case of Mr Brand were new and designed to protect the interests of both the staff member and the institution. They were modified in the wake of the Education Reform Act of 1988 and subsequent 1992 Ordinance of University Commissioners, which established model statutes designed both to protect academic freedom and ensure that university disciplinary codes are sufficiently rigorous.”  THES April 1998

He sued and the university settled. The thing is, it also meant that “Statutes [were] changed to allow institutions to remove tenure, so that new staff could be fired because of financial exigency and not just good cause.”  and that, as the man himself said,  means that “Edinburgh University and any other university can sack any academic for any ****ing thing it likes at any time of the day or night.” THES April 1998

So, the work the University did in getting rid of him changed the landscape for academic freedom forever.  It would be interesting to research this in the University archives.

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