Letter to Professor Stephen Toope regarding Cambridge’s ‘Report and Support’ website

Last week, the Telegraph‘s Camilla Turner revealed that Cambridge University had put a new reporting system in place, whereby students and staff were encouraged to report on other members of the University for various “inappropriate behaviour”, including giving someone a backhanded compliment, turning your back on certain people or not using someone’s preferred gender pronouns.

It was widely condemned, with one don saying: “Heated disagreement on many academic subjects are likely to become impossible. They have effectively laid out the pitchforks, and it is now up to the woke mob to pick them up.”

We told the Telegraph: “Cambridge University has just put a robust new free speech policy in place, which the Vice-Chancellor has welcomed. Why, then, has he approved this sinister new reporting system?”

We wrote to Professor Stephen Toope, the Vice-Chancellor (see below), pointing out that the new reporting website, along with the list of reportable offences, was incompatible with the University’s legal duty under the Education (No 2) Action 1986 to uphold free speech, and threatening to take the University to the High Court.

Today, Camilla Turner has written a follow-up story, revealing the website has been taken down.

Prof Toope said that since the website’s launch last week, “it has come to light that certain ancillary material was included in error”. He explained that the entire website had been taken offline while the material in question was removed, adding that the university had launched an investigation into how it was included in the first place.

“I believe that some of the statements and examples in this material go beyond the approved policy framework and would undermine its impact,” he said.

“The website has been temporarily taken down while that material is removed. I have asked senior staff to look into how this error occurred.”

We’re delighted that Cambridge has removed the website and will apply for a judicial review if it appears again in anything like its original form. We also stand ready to defend any of our Cambridge members who find themselves under investigation for ‘misgendering’ someone or any other lawful exercise of their right to free speech.

Professor-Stephen-Toope-Letter-24-May-2021