University of Nottingham staff wrote to the British International Studies Association (BISA) and threatened to take legal action against them [here] if they did not take down Dr. Thornton’s article. Like other participants, Dr. Thornton had just presented his work at BISA’s annual conference in Manchester when, under threat from those named in the report, the paper was taken down. Here and elsewhere those implicated have refrained or been unable to challenge the substantive aspects of Dr. Thornton’s report. For example, the sender of this email Dr. Philip Crowley was previously engaged in ‘confidential gossip’ when Sabir ‘bombed’  on his final assessment some time after his release [here]. This exchange took place an hour after Sabir’s assessment had been marked. The sender of the intial ‘gossip’, Dr. Mathew Humphrey, clear took steps to access this information and then work out that  Sabir was, overall, 0.2 per cent shy of qualifying for a PhD. Sabir’s academic performance was also being closely monitored by senior management and the Head of Security, Mr. Gary Stevens [here].  When Sabir decided to leave the University due to untoward pressure senior figures sent sent celebratory emails [here]. New documents [coming soon] show that Sabir was singled out by management following his arrest despite the fact he was innocent of any crime or wrongdoing. Why? This is another reason why an inquiry is needed.

Those that are named in Thornton’s research are offended, they are entitled to compile their own research paper and argue their points, but, the university does not have the right to suspend him. Such actions may be illegal under not only whistle-blowing laws but also human rights laws protecting freedom of expression. For example, see the key case in this regard: Sorguc v. Turkey, European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) (Application no. 17089/03) 23 June 2009.

Case digest of  Sorguc v. Turkey: “Liability for academic criticism of  individual a violation of Article 10: The finding of a domestic court that an academic was liable for defaming an individual amounted to a violation of Article 10 when the implied criticism of him came in the context of an academic explaining his views on the appointment and promotion of academics at his university, as they had a sufficient basis in fact and concerned a matter of public interest.”

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