Leaked Doc: Protestor Penalized For Piss-Poor Poetry

Owen Holland's 30 month rustication was down to his inability to explain his own poetry.

Willetts protester Owen Holland was sent down for 30 months after he couldn’t explain his own poetry.

In a confidential court document leaked to The Tab, it was revealed that the English PhD candidate found it “difficult to say” what some of the phrases in his densely-worded epistle meant.

The court therefore considered his testimony to be “lacking in […] credibility.

Holland was “not entitled to [a] discount on sentence” as he consistently denied charges. The court also found it relevant that he refused to show remorse or accept the “gravity” of his actions.

The Court of Discipline emphasised the need for Holland’s “rehabilitation” through his sentence. The aim of his rehabilitation is unclear.

WilliLeaks: An extract from the leaked doc

Despite student outrage at the severity of Holland’s 30 month rustication, the document revealed that his sentencing was still “at the lower end of the scale.

It was his good character, clean record and shared guilt that cut his sentence.

A “concerned” Gerard Tully, CUSU President, told The Tab: “It’s fairly clear to us how students feel about the issue, both from the Tab poll at the time of the decision, and the almost 3000 signatures on the ‘This Is Not Justice’ petition.

“I believe this sentence is excessive and does not stand up to rational scrutiny.”

The Court did not recognise the event as a protest but dismissed the Senior Proctor’s description of it as a “tedious interruption.

Sara Stillwell, a CDE activist, said: “They’ve disregarded that it is a protest. That’s already a biased premise.

“Whether or not they agreed with how it was conducted is a different matter. People should not be prosecuted for peacefully protesting in any environment.”

The University had no comment to offer, but said that the issue would be raised at Regent House on 24th April.


The document in full

Corrected 18.25, 17th April 2012: The double negative in the quote from Part F, paragraph 2b used in paragraph 10 was misinterpreted. It has been corrected to better reflect the court’s finding.

  • Maximus

    What we do in life, echoes in eternity!

  • Soggy Boxers

    I hate WilliLeaks

  • Numbers bumder

    How many students are there in the university? Because if only 3000 signed the petition, surely that's damning in the fact that a lot more than 3000 didn't sign it, if you catch my drift.

    • I don't like Owen…

      but that's a shit argument

    • Public School Boy

      No, because you have to feel quite strongly about something (usually) to sign a petition. Not signing is not the same as disagreeing. As far as I know there isn't a petition in support of the punishment, and if there was I suspect it would have many fewer.

    • Yes

      Especially since 78% of the Tab poll thought he should have been sent down for at least a term, but the petition called for him not to be sent down at all. I'm unpersuaded by Tully's petition…

    • Actually…

      Consider that 100,000 signatures on an e-petition on the government website will get the subject discussed in the house of commons. 100,000 people is about 0.2% of the population. 3,000 signatures is about 10% of the population of people associated with the university, so it's pretty significant.

      • Dignitas

        It's only 100,000 because they nicked the idea from Switzerland but forgot to scale the figures up for a larger population.

  • hmm

    not as ‘piss-poor’ as 2012 first years will be!

  • i hate it when my


  • Elliott

    Re: the comment that "The Court did not recognise the event as a protest…" It looks to me like the Court actually did recognise it as a protest. When called as a witness, the Senior Proctor described it as a 'tedious interruption' (E3a), and the Court rejects this statement when considering the sentence (F2b). The grammar of "could not properly be regarded as nothing more than a tedious interruption” is actually correct, though difficult to parse, and your insertion of '[sic]' is reversing the actual meaning.

    • http://cambridgetab.co.uk/ TabEditor

      Thank you, this mistake has been corrected.

      • Actually

        Well it hasn't really…. Now you're paragraph just maks no sense. You assert that they rejected that it was a protest based on a rejection of a statement which is intended to deny that it was a protest…. Explain that one?

        • actually…

          If you're being pedantic – you've spelt "your" wrong…

        • Confused

          I don't understand that paragraph at all. Firstly, why was the Proctor arguing it was just a tedious interruption – surely that would mean it wasn't really worth punishing? Secondly, why shouldn't it be classified as a protest? A protest that's disruptive, rude, misses the point, brings the University into disrepute etc. is still worth punishing. Thirdly, what was it, if not a protest?

          Any chance that the members of the Court read the Tab? We'd like an explanation…

  • Armchair Judge

    Excellent grammar knowledge. I tip my hat to you with a stern nod.

    • Armchair Critic

      I raise my glass and commend you, good sir.

  • Revd Slipper

    Problem is – Holland is a pratt. So to be frank, although it is way too long, most people couldn't care less.

  • Demonstraitor

    Sara Stilllwell's point seems flawed and dangerous. A right to protest doesnt guarantee a right to disrupt other people's public speech, however non-violent that
    disruption may be. If everyone should have a right to use the public domain
    to demonstrate and protest peacefully -a right which the state should have a duty to guarantee by protecting such demonstrators- the protest against Willetts was not a mere exercise of that right but an abuse of it, for it prevented Willetts from exercising his own right to speak publicly, and prevented his audience from exercising their right to publicly respond to and debate his address. Only the police should have a duty to disrupt illegal demonstrations, such as those inciting violence.

    If we want to continue to feel safe demonstrating about and protesting
    against almost any issue, it's crucial to make a distinction between a right to
    protest and a right to disrupt. A defense of the latter right would mean depriving the
    smaller, weaker, less loud groups from the right to demonstrate and protest, to the benefit of bigger, more powerful, and louder disruptors, who would be given a monopoly of public speech.

    • Also

      her point isn't even accurate – just because they disregarded it as a protest doesn't make it biased – they might well have given a lot of consideration as to whether or not it was a protest, and decided it wasn't.

      Is there literally no-one in CDE who is able to string enough words together to make a coherent, intelligent sentence?

      • If there is…

        …they certainly weren't involved in writing the 'epistle'

  • voice of reason

    The epistle was more than a "tedious interruption" simply on account of its length. It was unfortunate that they were not robustly challenged, but the fear of physical confrontation is understandable (although I like to think that even the CDE lot are not violent).

    I also endorse the point made by "Numbers bumder" regarding the petition. If anything, he is being generous because he is not taking account of the dons (much higher-ranking in the University), many of whom took a very dim view of this "protest", even if they sympathised with the cause (even Prof. Goldhill, see http://cambridgetab.co.uk/news/oxford-dons-vote-n….

    Most importantly, the administration of justice should be detached from mob rule, and judges should have the power to make unpopular decisions (that is not to say that such decisions should be immune from scrutiny; no decision should be, popular or otherwise, although confidentiality is sometimes essential for some testimony). Otherwise, emotional sympathies towards and popularity of the defendant will interfere in the process.

    • Well said

      although I don't think popularity of the defendant would be an issue in the present case – it seems almost unanimously accepted that Holland is a prick.

  • 28 Days Later…

    The 28 day deadline after 20th March has now passed – does anyone know if Holland has appealed and on what grounds? Having read the whole statement of the court, it sounds fair enough…

    • Revd Slipper

      He has appealed. He hasn't shaved though, the rotter.

      Also, he looks quite like JESUS which I find OFFENSIVE as I hate all these CHRISTIANS forcing their religion on us. And they hate gays.

  • larry

    "Despite student outrage" – I'm not outraged. I just want to get on with a degree

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