January 07, 2010

Lecturer 'intended to harass' VC, court finds

An academic is wanted by police after being found guilty of harassing the vice-chancellor of Kingston University.

Howard Fredrics, who worked at the university as senior lecturer of music between 2003 and 2006, was convicted at Kingston Magistrates' Court of harassing Sir Peter Scott via postings on a website, www.sirpeterscott.com.

Dr Fredrics was found guilty in his absence, having failed to appear for the hearing last month, and a warrant was issued for his arrest. He will be sentenced later this month.

At the trial, Sir Peter said the site was "intended to embarrass and humiliate" him and that some of its material, such as an allegation that he was a friend of former Prime Minister Tony Blair, was inaccurate. He added that he had met Dr Fredrics only five times.

Finding Dr Fredrics guilty, Judith Jewell, chairman of the bench, said: "We believe the course of conduct he pursued in setting up this website was intended to harass Sir Peter Scott ... he ought to have known that such actions would amount to harassment."

Dr Fredrics has used the site to expose controversial practices at Kingston in recent years. In 2008, he posted a recording of lecturers pressurising students to inflate their National Student Survey responses.

Sir Peter complained to the World Intellectual Property Organisation that Dr Fredrics was infringing his right to the domain name www.sirpeterscott.com. In May 2009, it ruled that the vice-chancellor had no rights to the name.

In a statement issued after the trial, Dr Fredrics says the conviction had been handed down despite a "compelling police report that indicated there was no evidence that the site contained anything that could lead to such a charge".

The report, seen by Times Higher Education, says the "sites listed do not contain content that is consistent with any harassment".

A second charge against Dr Fredrics of threatening and abusive behaviour following an encounter with Sir Peter in Kingston last year was put on hold.


From: http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk


Beauty and Health Editor said...

Interesting....Unfortunately, this is what happens when people are dissatisfied and feel let down by the system.

If the University had tried to settle the differences they had with this individual, there would be no need for him to go so far.

This is a good reason why Universities should listen to staff complaints and grievances against bullying Managers who harass and belittle their staff.

In so doing, there would be no need for Internet vigilanteism...LOL

It seems more and more these days that the bad guys win, probably because we are governed by bad eggs in the first place!

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Claudio said...

On some of my internet browsing I have failed not to notice about Ms Judith Jewell: -------http://www.indigoassociates.co.uk/who.html ----------- Magistrate, Judith Jewell's company -- note her role as Governor at Roehampton University is referenced here…………. “[...] She likes to get involved in things - she is a magistrate on Kingston-upon-Thames bench, an Executive Member of Kingston Racial Equality Council, and a Governor of Roehampton University, as well as more creative pursuits like cooking and eating adventurously". --------- Moreover…… http://www.westfocus.org.uk/westfocus/w47_Roehampton.aspx ---------- you will note the WestFocus consortium relationship between Kingston and Roehampton University shown at the bottom of the home page.-------- Furthermore, I have noticed: http://www.kingston.ac.uk/aboutkingstonuniversity/howtheuniversityworks/partnerinstitutions/ --------- Kingston University and Roehampton University are listed as "Partner Institutions".--------- It is very well known that university governors and vice-chancellors are very much in contact with governors and vice-chancellors of other universities in order to exchange views and ideas on policies and performance for the goodness of the public interests and the pursuit of the perfection of the sector of education of our children: our future. Given the background information on links between Kingston University – Judith Jewell – Roehampton University, and Ms Jewell’s position as magistrate of Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) -which potential conflict of interests could be very easily extrapolated from the internet-, I must say that it is unfortunate that Ms Jewell has been appointed to make a decision on a case where a jail sentence could be ordered on a man who has informed the public with his website “sirpeterscott.com” on issues which otherwise would have been swept under the carpet as usually might happen in universities and other public sector companies where confidentiality is paramount. In addition, I would like to point out once more that the Police report has found no element of harassment in the website whatsoever. Although there are so many magistrates out there in the all UK who could have been chosen to decide on this case, it is however very unlikely that none of the parties like the CPS, or Ms Jewell or any of the board of governors of Kingston University and their lawyers has deliberately overlooked this potential conflict of interests and therefore unwittingly allowed this to however proceed in the circumstances; therefore, I really hope that in the light of the awareness of this disturbing conflict, for the sake of justice, public interest and freedom of speech, the authorities reconsider the conviction of Dr Howard Fredrics and thus restoring to the public the faith that the juridical system of a democratic society deserves.

To see more about this public international outcry go on: http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?storycode=409869