Bristol Uni launches investigation into Professor David Miller
Miller has been accused of targeting Jewish students at Bristol Uni
Bristol Uni has confirmed that it has launched an investigation into Professor David Miller following comments he made that targeted Jewish students at the university.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, the university said: “We can confirm that the University has already initiated an investigation into this matter. The investigation is being carried out in accordance with the University’s internal process and, as we have explained in a previous statement, that process is confidential.”
On Tuesday the government responded to a written question about David Miller, saying: “The government considers Professor Miller’s views to be ill-founded and wholly reprehensible, and wholeheartedly rejects them.”
The Union of Jewish Students (UJS) and the Bristol Jewish Society (JSoc) have issued a statement saying that, as far as they know, David Miller has not been suspended pending the outcome of this investigation. Bristol Uni refused to comment in response to multiple requests from The Bristol Tab.
On Saturday 13th February, David Miller criticised Jewish student groups in an online Zoom event, leading to the president of Bristol Jewish Society (JSoc) being targeted for abuse online. Also in his comments, he called for the “the end” of Zionism, as well as claiming “it’s fundamental to Zionism to encourage Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism too”.
On Thursday 18th February, the sociology professor doubled down on his comments, while also claiming that a student was involved in “political surveillance” against him, and that attacks on him are “directed by the State of Israel”, which has resulted in the online abuse of Jewish students.
— Union of Jewish Students (@UJS_UK) March 17, 2021
Bristol Uni has been condemned in recent weeks by MPs from all political parties, the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Bristol SU, the Holocaust Educational Trust, the Union of Jewish Students (UJS), the Community Security Trust (CST), Labour Against Antisemitism, Bristol West MP Thangam Debbonaire, Bristol staff, students, alumni, leading figures in the UK, among many others.
In the statement, the university acknowledged that a written question had been raised in Parliament about David Miller and the university’s handling of the issue.
On Tuesday, Lord Parkinson responded on behalf of the government, saying: “The government considers Professor Miller’s views to be ill-founded and wholly reprehensible, and wholeheartedly rejects them.”
The government notes that universities are autonomous institutions, which is why government has not intervened, adding: “It is the responsibility of the University of Bristol to determine whether or not Professor Miller’s remarks constitute lawful free speech.
“Regardless of whether or not it is found that Professor Miller’s conduct constitutes lawful free speech, the government considers that the University of Bristol could do more to make its condemnation of that conduct clear to current and future students and to show its commitment to creating a welcoming environment for Jewish students.”
In a statement, the University of Bristol said: “We are aware of concerns about comments made by David Miller, Professor of Political Sociology and member of our School for Policy Studies, and that a written question has also been raised in Parliament regarding Professor Miller’s comments, and the principles of freedom of speech at the University of Bristol.
“We recognise that this matter has caused deep concern for some members of our community, and also that people hold very different views on the issues raised. The University has offered support to both students and staff who have been affected by it.
“We can confirm that the University has already initiated an investigation into this matter. The investigation is being carried out in accordance with the University’s internal process and, as we have explained in a previous statement, that process is confidential. In particular, it is not appropriate for the University to make any comment on this matter while the investigation we have referred to is underway.
“Our freedom of speech policy underlines the vital importance of the right of staff and students, as members of a free and democratic society, to speak openly without fear of censorship or limitation, provided that this right is exercised responsibly, within the law, and with respect for others who may have differing views.
“The University’s clear and consistently held position is that bullying, harassment, and discrimination are never acceptable. We remain committed to providing a positive experience for all our students and staff, including by providing a welcoming environment for Jewish students, and to fostering good relations and an inclusive University community.”
David Miller has been contacted for comment.
Featured image: CAGE / YouTube