Expenses ‘scandal’ causes University to turn on its own media machine

University officials were involved in a ‘seemingly deliberate attempt to intimidate’ Exeposé

censorship Exeposé expenses scandal

Exeposé might be SUED by the University after it published details of an expenses scandal before a “full investigation” had taken place.

On Monday 2 February, the SU paper linked an image of the controversial “A first class scandal?” article on its Facebook and Twitter, even though it wasn’t supposed to be printed until that afternoon due to “printing delays”.

This seemingly harmless decision was of course picked up by Chief Operating Officer of the Fun Police, Geoff Pringle, (or COO to his nearest and dearest) who sent a very strongly worded letter to the paper just hours after the image was released.

The letter, which was addressed to ex-BNOC nominee Harrison Jones, threatened “legal action against the publication, the author, and the editor of the article” unless changes were made, publication suspended and all front page images removed from social media.

The real scandal lies behind the article.

Pringle was outraged with the content of the article, which looked at the £3million the University spent on staff expenses last year.

His letter reported “serious concerns” about the use of the word “scandal” in the article, which he believed would cause readers to think staff “had wrongfully and fraudulently claimed expenses”.

The University then went on to demand Jones should “immediately provide a copy of the article for consideration” so they could respond to the claims.

Coo’s reaction to the article seems particularly awkward given that Spiked Online released a report on freedom of speech across all UK universities only a few weeks ago, which said we have a very “open environment” for free speech.

Mr Pringle in happier times.

Spiked said: “The University of Exeter and the University of Exeter Students’ Guild collectively create an open environment for free speech.

“The university, which has received a Green ranking, places no restrictions on speech or expression.”

Perhaps Pringle didn’t get the message.

When asked about the University’s choice to threaten to sue him, Harrison Jones said: “The uni weren’t interested in having a conversation about it, but jumped straight to legal threats in a seemingly deliberate attempt to intimidate.

“They had only seen the front page – not the full investigation – and that was particularly disappointing because in my opinion there was nothing wrong with that page.”

The uni was also concerned with Exeposé’s claim’s about the casual £58,000 “performance related remuneration” Vice-Chancellor Steve Smith (the man who said he would happily raise student fees again) received.

It transpired these figures were out of date, as Smith actually received his tiny bonus in 2014, rather than this year as Exeposé reported.

Therefore, they were forced to edit the article and amend their data.

The combination of legal threats and wrongly printed information meant the Guild staff had to hurriedly run around campus on Monday afternoon to retrieve all of the copies of Exeposé that had already been delivered that morning.

The Guild were forced to round up copies from across campus

The Guild has subsequently apologised for failing to correctly compliance check this edition of Exeposé.

They said: “The Guild is deeply sorry for the stress this oversight caused to all involved.

“We have strengthened our compliance mechanisms to maintain editorial independence while ensuring this doesn’t occur again.”

The University said: “It was with great regret that we felt it necessary to issue a legal letter to Exeposé.

“While the University values and supports freedom of speech, it takes unfounded accusations against its employees extremely seriously.

“These accusations were in breach of Exepose’s own Code of Conduct.

“We will be working with the Guild to ensure this never needs to happen again.”