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Oct 26th, 2018
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  1. *Statement*
  2.  
  3. To whom it may concern
  4.  
  5. As two experienced trade union activists we agreed to accompany three SOAS students to preliminary disciplinary investigation meetings, to provide them with pastoral support and guidance.
  6.  
  7. These resulted from allegations made against them following the student protest at SOAS on the 16 March 2018, the final day of the recent UCU strike.
  8.  
  9. Having attended the investigation meetings and seen the evidence provided, including the high-resolution CCTV footage of the alleged incidents, we are shocked and appalled that the Investigating Officer has chosen to recommend that these cases go to a full disciplinary hearing.
  10.  
  11. There is, in our view, absolutely no justification for this. As we understand it, the Investigating Officer has not even questioned the several witnesses provided by the students concerned. And from what we have seen, the CCTV footage shows clearly that the specific allegations made against the students are baseless (we assume that it is for this reason that the allegations against one of the students were dismissed).
  12.  
  13. From the evidence we have seen, the three students were, in fact, the victims of serious and unwarranted aggression while taking part in their peaceful protest.
  14.  
  15. That this process is being conducted over the exam period, while some of the students concerned are sitting their finals, is in our view unconscionable.
  16.  
  17. Furthermore, we are genuinely concerned that basic principles of procedural due process have been infringed, and that that Investigating Officer has erred in interpreting his mandate. The question for him was not whether the allegations against the students are “sufficiently serious”, but whether there was evidence to warrant progressing to a full hearing.
  18.  
  19. Again, we cannot stress enough, that from the evidence we have seen, it is hard to see how a decision to pursue a formal hearing on these allegations was reached.
  20.  
  21. At least one of the students concerned has already had to face a trial by media with SOAS failing in its duty of care towards them.
  22.  
  23. We are reluctantly putting this statement into the public domain, as the School’s incomprehensible decision to proceed with a formal hearing raises in our judgement the far more serious danger of further damaging the wellbeing of the students concerned.
  24.  
  25. Sandy Nicoll
  26.  
  27. Dr Paul O'Connell
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