Tory MP says Bristol Uni bosses should resign as they ‘care nothing about anti semitism’
Bristol Uni currently isn’t commenting on whether the senior management team will quit
A Tory MP said today that Bristol Uni management “should resign because they care nothing about antisemitism”.
In a blistering attack on Bristol Uni bosses, Robert Halfon, Chair of the Education Committee said: “I think the behaviour of the management and the Vice Chancellor of Bristol University is pretty appalling, given what this academic has said.”
Bristol’s Professor David Miller is under internal investigation following alleged antisemitic comments about Bristol Uni students.
Bristol Uni declined to comment on whether or not the Vice Chancellor or senior management would resign, referring us to a previous statement on the internal investigation into Miller.
Today, more than 100 parliamentarians from across both Houses of Parliament, members of seven political parties, independent and crossbench peers have written to @BristolUni calling for action on antisemitism. pic.twitter.com/6lXZ7dFMYq
— APPG Antisemitism (@APPGAA) March 4, 2021
Michelle Donelan, the universities minister, was quizzed this morning by the Education Committee, and over 18 minutes of the session was spent on questions regarding Professor David Miller and antisemitism at Bristol Uni.
Robert Halfon MP, who is also Vice President of the Jewish Leadership Council, questioned Donelan on whether she had intervened in the case of David Miller, expressing serious concern about the welfare of Jewish students at Bristol.
“Why would you not intervene, to deal with this and tell Bristol, the Vice Chancellor that enough is enough, and that we’re not living in 1930s Germany and that they should deal with this problem and make sure that Bristol University is not a hostile environment to Jewish students?” said Halfon.
“And it isn’t just it isn’t just media reports about Bristol University,” he added. “There is documented pages and pages of evidence from various organisations about what has gone on at that university and it is a disgrace.”
“Jewish students have not felt that their university has acted properly at Bristol regarding the allegations, which date back over several years.”
Donelan consistently refused to be drawn on the specifics of the David Miller case, insisting that universities are “autonomous” and that she won’t get involved until the conclusion of the internal investigation.
However, the universities minister did say that she will be scrutinising the results of Bristol Uni’s internal investigation into David Miller, saying: “we will look at the findings of that, and I know that the Office for Students are also eagerly awaiting that.”
“I would urge [Bristol Uni] to particularly focus on the wording in the language that David Miller is is alleged to have said in regards to current students that are there, because you’re quite right; universities need to be welcoming institutions for for everybody from all walks of life.”
Donelan also confirmed that she has not yet spoken to Bristol VC Hugh Brady or senior management, but said she is “awaiting the conclusions of the review after which I will indeed speak to the Vice Chancellor.”
In a statement to The Bristol Tab, the Union of Jewish Students and Bristol JSoc said: “UJS welcomes the support from the Chair of the Education Select Committee, Robert Halfon, along with multiple parliamentarians, who regularly hold the Universities Minister to account and question what actions the government should be taking to ensure Jewish student safety at Bristol University.”
Miller and Bristol Uni have come under heavy criticism since February following comments made by Miller about Jewish students at Bristol Uni, which led to the president of the Bristol Jewish Society (JSoc) being targeted for online abuse.
On Thursday 18th February, Miller doubled down on his comments, and also claimed that a student was involved in “political surveillance” against him, and that attacks on him are “directed by the State of Israel”. These comments have resulted in the online abuse of Jewish students.
Bristol Uni declined to comment on Halfon and Donelan’s remarks, referring us to a previous statement confirming the internal investigation into Miller.
“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.”