John Duffy won’t be punished for wrongly accusing students of crimes

He accused protesters of “organising or leading…unlawful occupations” in 2013

John Duffy, Sussex Registrar, will not face disciplinary action for releasing a statement wrongly accusing students of committing crimes.

In November 2013, a group of five students, who came to be known as “The Sussex Five”, were suspended over protests against privatisation on campus. A month later in December 2013, a statement was published on the University of Sussex website, accusing students who were protesting against the privatisation of the university of “organising or leading…unlawful occupations” and using “violence and intimidation”.  The offending statement contained false claims both in a quote from Duffy and in the main body of text.

Following the publication of the statement, the university was sued by protester Michael Segalov, former Communications Officer for the SU and LLB graduate. He won his case and the university were required to pay out thousands of pounds, with Segalov receiving £20k.  Following this court case, the university publically apologised in October 2015, stating that there was “no truth” in their 2013 claims. The Badger were then censored by the SU for attempting to publish news regarding the legal case.

In total, the statement has cost the University of Sussex over £30,000: £20,000 to Segalov, and  £12,600 to legal firm Pinsent Masons. In spite of these costs, Vice Chancellor Michael Farthing elected not to refer Duffy to a disciplinary hearing.

The Badger, who submitted the FOI that revealed the information, said John Duffy, Michael Farthing and the University, had all declined repeated requests for comment.