A piece in yesterday’s Times:
A law student has said that she was the victim of a “modern-day witch-hunt” after being investigated by her university because she said women have vaginas and are weaker than men.
Lisa Keogh, 29, was cleared of of misconduct charges after a two-month inquiry at the University of Abertay in Dundee. Classmates had complained about her remarks during online classes. Keogh also maintained that women should not have to compete against trans women in contact sports.
She was alleged to have made “inappropriate comments” that “could be construed as discriminatory” and continued to make “offensive comments” and to behave in “a disrespectful manner”, despite being made aware of objections to her views.
She was cleared by Abertay’s student disciplinary board after it found no evidence that she had discriminated against another member of the university, and concluded that she had not intentionally shouted in class.
Keogh, a mother of two, was “overjoyed” by the ruling but “saddened” by the experience she had been put through. She would not feel comfortable attending her graduation event, she said.
“The ordeal I have been through has been a punishment in itself,” she said. “I hope Abertay University can learn from this experience and not put other students through a similar ordeal just for voicing their opinions.
“I always knew the complaints made against me were groundless. I was targeted because of my gender-critical views — it was a modern-day witch-hunt. No woman should face discrimination in the way I have because she believes in sex-based rights.”
Keogh is a member of the Free Speech Union. Toby Young, the writer and commentator who is the union’s general secretary, was pleased that the complaints had been dismissed but said the university should not have taken two months to reach its conclusion.
“It should have been obvious that the complaints against her were due to her gender-critical views, not the manner in which she expressed them,” Young said. “In a seminar on gender, feminism and the law there should be room for a range of views, from militant trans activism to traditional feminism.”
The university’s letter to Keogh said: “On reviewing the evidence available, including witness statements, class recordings and chat transcript, the board found no evidence that you had discriminated against another member of the university, the board found that you had not intentionally shouted in class.”
In a statement the university denied that Keogh had been investigated “for expressing so-called unacceptable opinions about gender identity, or any other topic”.
It added that it was committed to upholding freedom of speech on campus and would “continue to actively encourage open and challenging debate”.
Joanna Cherry, the SNP MP who supported Keogh during the investigation, said: “The university should review its free speech and equality policies to make sure that future students are not subject to the stress of spurious complaints nor discriminated against, harassed or victimised for their beliefs.”
The Abertay ruling comes after the arrest last week of Marion Millar, 50, a gender-critical feminist from Airdrie, charged under section 127 of the Communications Act, with being a hate aggravator, for tweets posted since 2019.
The messages under investigation are understood to include a retweeted photograph of a bow of ribbons in the green, white and purple colours of the suffragettes, tied outside a Glasgow location where a BBC soap opera is filmed.
It is believed a complaint suggested that the ribbons represent a noose. If convicted Millar, an accountant, faces up to six months in prison.
Keogh said: “Yesterday I received a letter from Abertay University dismissing all the complaints made against me. This is a victory. As overjoyed as I am about this decision, I am saddened that I went through this at such a critical time in my university career.
“The very end of my period at Abertay is now tarnished with these bad memories and I worry that my final grades will have been affected by this. I will not feel comfortable attending any graduation event.”
An Abertay University spokesman said: “As we have previously stated, the university is legally obliged to investigate all complaints. This does not mean every element of a complaint about a student becomes the subject of a disciplinary case.”
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