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[University of Canterbury, New Zealand, Council's decision to reject complaint of Dr Thomas Fudge over two matters alleging "book burning"]



THE two resolutions below were passed unanimously at today's meeting of the University Council:

Resolution 1

THE learned journal "History Now" is a collective enterprise of the members of the Department of History at the University of Canterbury. The Editor decided to publish an article by Dr [Thomas] Fudge entitled "The Fate of Joel Hayward in New Zealand Hands: From Holocaust Historian to Holocaust?" The journal was printed and ready for distribution before the Editorial Board or any other members of the Department became aware of the inclusion of the article.

Because of concerns felt by members of the Department about what they saw as possible defamation issues, misrepresentation of the views or actions of some members of the Department, the misuse of what they understood to be confidential Departmental information and the departure from a departmental understanding relating to the Joel Hayward thesis, a meeting of the Department was called. At this meeting it was decided that the article was unacceptable for publication in a journal which is a collective enterprise of the Department and for which, in consequence, all members of the Department and the University are responsible for its academic content.

Dr Fudge was advised the Department would accept the article for publication in an amended form in its journal and that he was also free to publish his views, with the assistance of the Department if he wanted it, outside the "house journal". Dr Fudge did not respond to the offer and the decision was made by the Department not to publish the proposed issue of the journal and in consequence to destroy the printed copies of the journal.

Dr Fudge complained to the Vice-Chancellor, Professor [Roy] Sharp. Professor Sharp heard representations from the key persons involved. He was expressly mindful of the need to maintain Dr Fudge's right to academic freedom, but in a manner, which respected the rights of the other members of the Department and of the Department itself. Professor Sharp considered the position from all perspectives and, in particular gave weight to

its offer to Dr Fudge to publish the article in an amended form in its "house journal";

its explicit acceptance that Dr Fudge was free to publish elsewhere;

the Department's offer to assist him in that process,

Professor Sharp concluded that in the circumstances the Department was entitled to decline to publish Dr Fudge's views in a collective Departmental Journal. He also concluded that there was no denial of Dr Fudge's right to publish his views elsewhere and therefore declined to intervene.

Dr Fudge disputed the Vice Chancellor's conclusion and moved to air his views more widely, including referring to them in his lectures. The Vice-Chancellor then wrote to Dr Fudge as follows:

"The events of the past few weeks in the Department of History have caused considerable concern within the University and in the wider community. The commitment of this University and mine as its Vice-Chancellor to academic freedom should not be doubted. That commitment is one of the defining characteristics of universities and I will always fight to preserve it. I fully defend your right to freedom of speech, subject to this being exercised within the law and ethically defensible. I consider formal lectures and classes in the courses HIST 130 and HIST 365 to be inappropriate University fora for the defence of your personal position with regard to the actions taken with History Now and the expression of your opinions of staff on the Editorial Board. Without in any way determining matters, which may become the subject of a formal investigation, I direct you not to use such lectures and classes for those purposes."

The Vice-Chancellor affirmed the position that the lecture room is not the place to air the lecturer's private dispute with his colleagues or the University. His instruction was confined to particular lectures and classes and related to specified and limited actions. It was not of general application and left Dr Fudge free to express himself without restriction, both within the University and outside it. The Council, having considered the matter and after receiving advice from the Vice-Chancellor Employment Committee, is of the clear opinion and so resolves, that the circumstances do not reveal:

Any action by the Vice-Chancellor which failed to protect, promote or enhance academic freedom;

Any failure to act or other omission by the Vice-Chancellor which failed to protect, promote or enhance academic freedom;

Any action by the Vice-Chancellor with regard to the content of lectures delivered by Dr Fudge which impinged on his freedom of expression or fail to protect, promote or enhance academic freedom;

Any other action by the Vice-Chancellor which could warrant investigation by the Council;

That the Council confirms its continuing full confidence in the Vice-Chancellor.


Resolution 2

The University Council considers the premature release of the letter of complaint lodged with the Council to the media as most improper. The process whereby the Council might first consider the matters raised by Dr Fudge was completely abrogated, and resulted in mischievous media publicity. The Council deplores this incident, and expresses its regrets to the Vice Chancellor for any distress caused to him by this unfortunate breach, which was not of the Council's making.



Our dossier on the Joel Hayward case
Response by Dr Thomas Fudge tol the above document
Reader's letter by Martin Lally to The Listener
The Listener article, smears Hayward and "deniers"
Canterbury University (NZ) Council passes two resolutions in Sept 2003 rejecting complaints by Dr Thomas Fudge of book burning and loss of academic freedom in Hayward Case | Dr Fudge's letter of response to these resolutions | letter from Martin Lally's committee circulating these items


© Focal Point 2003 e-mail:  write to David Irving