06/23/2014 Malcolm James

Ben Sullivan, and things they do (slightly) differently in the UK

President of Oxford Union not charged with rape due to lack of evidence

Ben Sullivan, the president of the Oxford Union, will not be charged as a result of allegations of rape and attempted rape due to insufficient evidence.  Thankfully for him, this will be the end of the matter as far as disciplinary investigations are concerned, because, unlike in the US, he will not face an internal disciplinary process with a ‘preponderance of the evidence’ evidence threshold and flawed, or non-existent, standards of due process.

However, some things will be familiar to US readers, such as the rush to judgement based on no more than an allegation.  There were calls to boycott the Oxford Union from the Student Union’s vice-president for women (the Oxford Union is a debating society and is quite separate from the Student Union).

However, in a refreshing outbreak of sanity, Jennifer Perry, the CEO of the Digital Trust and the author of UK guidelines on digital risk, condemned these as ‘premature’ and ‘ill-conceived’ and criticized university officials for not stepping in, saying that ‘[c]reating an atmosphere of intimidation and gossip doesn’t help get to the truth or resolve the situation’.

The Secretary General of Interpol, Ronald Noble, (someone who really should know a lot better – and why did someone in his position feel he had to get involved in a common or garden rape allegation?) engaged in a classic piece of doublethink, saying that whilst Ben Sullivan should be considered innocent until proven guilty, he should have resigned or taken leave of absence pending the result of the investigation.

Leave of absence, yes, but resign, Mr. Noble, no.  If he had been found guilty he would have been sacked, not least because he would have been in prison.  But he wasn’t because he wasn’t, and I hope all parties can now move on.


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Comments (2)

  1. Requiring someone to “resign” ANY position as a result of a simple allegation is entirely inappropriate-as it effectively punishes someone based solely on an allegation. That is the sort of thought that INVITES abuse.

    Mr. Noble needs to try actually supporting the concept of “innocent until proven guilty”-as his own statements on this matter clearly indicate he currently has no comprehension of that phrase.

    • I agree. It gives the accusation an undue degree of credibility. The accused should not be summarily booted off campus any sooner than the accuser should.


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