NEWS – “without comment”
Posted by: Ian (D. Withers)
Sheffield University criticised for hiring private investigator after protest
Private investigator hired to look into possible involvement of two student activists in occupation of building
Rachel Hall – @rachela_hall
Mon 13 Mar 2023
The following are excerpts only from the Article:
Full Article: https://www.theguardian.com/education/2023/mar/13/sheffield-university-criticised-over-handling-of-protest-investigation
Sheffield University has been criticised for hiring a private investigator to look into the possible involvement of two student activists in a protest in one of its buildings.
The two students received letters on 9 November informing them that the university had hired Intersol Global, a firm of investigators, to look into whether they were involved in a student occupation of a building in late October protesting against Sheffield’s links to the arms industry.
The letters said “a report of alleged misconduct by you is the subject of an investigation in line with the university’s regulations relating to the discipline of students”, and that due to its “serious nature” an independent investigator had been appointed.
An accompanying document said the regulations allegedly broken related to “the improper interference, in the broadest sense, with the proper functioning or activities of the university”, and that the students could face suspension or expulsion from the university, and fines of up to £750 and bills of up to £1,000 for any damage of university property.
Both students say they can prove they were not in the city at the time, leading them to suspect they may have been profiled for their earlier activism work. They say they have not yet had a hearing with the private investigator that the letter said would take place in November or December 2022 to resolve their cases.
Manchester University has launched disciplinary action against students who occupied a building in protest against high rents, after calling the police on 19 February and launching formal legal action to remove them from the premises, which the students said was “unprecedented”.
Sheffield University said that as these were live investigations, it was not able to comment on the specifics, but said it had offered the students wellbeing support.
A spokesperson for Intersol Global said: “Intersol Global act as external impartial investigators for a variety of institutions, including higher education providers, and can confirm we are doing so in this case. The investigation is ongoing and the investigation process is confidential, as such it is our policy not to make any comment.”