St Hugh’s launch inquiry into sexual harassment claims

The investigation follows claims about the behaviour of a now-deceased fellow

An independent inquiry is being launched into allegations of misconduct and sexual harassment at St Hugh’s College.

The college has confirmed that its governing body commissioned the investigation following claims about the behaviour of a now-deceased fellow.

It is understood the fellow is Professor David Robertson, who died in August last year.

The inquiry was set up after author and graduate Melanie McGrath wrote an online article, accusing Robertson of “doing a Weinstein on me” – a reference to Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein – when she was an undergraduate studying PPE in the 1980s.

She wrote: “David, who was my tutor, held tutorials in his flat on college grounds and had an uncanny knack for scheduling a shower, at whatever time of day, just before I arrived. He’d open the door – as if innocently – dressed in his bathrobe and, one time, in a tiny towel.

“For the next hour I would have to undergo the humiliating experience of reading my essay, on which I had laboured hard and with serious intent, while David sat opposite, half-naked and manspreading, often smelling of alcohol and sipping from a mug of what was never tea or coffee.

“In the midst of my valiant efforts to get a grip on the topic of the week, David might proffer a helpful comment, such as why he preferred it when I curled my hair. Once he dropped a useful note in my pigeonhole to say he couldn’t help noticing I hadn’t got a boyfriend.”

McGrath went on to criticise St Hugh’s, noting how Robertson was assigned as her “personal tutor”, and thus the individual to whom she was meant to go to if she had a problem.

She was also critical of the college’s supposed ignorance of the matter, claiming that if they “hadn’t heard the rumours of his misconduct they couldn’t have been listening very hard.”

The inquiry will be chaired by Alison Levitt QC, who carried out a review into the crimes of the late Jimmy Savile.

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The terms of reference given to Levitt state: “The College has recently received allegations of historic misconduct and sexual harassment about a now deceased Fellow from two former students.

“The College requests you to carry out an independent investigation about these allegations and whether the circumstances of these or of similar allegations were known to the members of governing body or management staff of the College.

“If so, to report on the adequacy and appropriateness of the College’s responses and any action taken in respect of such allegations or circumstances, with any recommendations for action.”

The college confirmed that an investigation had been launched, but a spokesperson said it would be inappropriate to comment until the investigation was complete.

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