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From: Thomas Fudge

THE ruling on my complaint against the Vice-Chancellor [Roy Sharp] offered by the Canterbury University Council on 27 August [2003] is both troubling and curious. It is curious inasmuch as it appears founded upon some rather astonishing assumptions.

First, the various concerns raised over legal matters fail to take into account the by-now widely known fact that four lawyers vetted the article as long ago as March. Two of these were University counsel and all four concluded there was no legal impediment to publication.

Second, it is my first exposure to the notion that all members of the University are responsible for the content of University publications. This would make for an extraordinarily large editorial committee.

Third, it is news to me that the Department of History was prepared to accept an amended form of the article for publication in History Now.

As a matter of fact three of the five members of the so-called editorial board went on record on 14 May in opposition to my right to publish the article anywhere. The Head of the Department, Peter Hempenstall, did suggest on 10 June that I might like to resubmit the article but admitted in the next breath that it was very unlikely it would be accepted.

As for encouragement in publishing elsewhere I can confirm that Departmental and University officials all urged me to consider publishing the article overseas. I have published in at least nine countries and have personal publishing connections in at least six of those countries but I argued that the subject matter of this particular article was a New Zealand issue and therefore ought to be published in this country. But if legal fears prevented its appearance in History Now why would publication elsewhere be feasible?

Vice-Chancellor Roy Sharp declined to intervene in the matter after I approached him on 29 May but not for the reasons given by the Council last week. In his written reply to me dated 16 June Sharp made no reference to an offer from the Department to publish my article and indeed could not have done so for there never was an offer. He did not comment upon an "explicit acceptance that [I] was free to publish elsewhere" for an effort to secure that acceptance within the History department failed.

Roy Sharp declined to intervene on the grounds that it was his opinion that "process" had been breached; an assumption neither he nor anyone else can sustain. Nevertheless, he took his stand on that point alone in June. According to the Council Sharp concluded "there was no denial" of my right to publish. But of course there had been. Why does the Council not refer to Sharp's written reply to me of 16 June instead of introducing points never discussed previously?

The Council complains about the premature release of my letter of complaint to the media and appears to assume I was responsible for that. I categorically deny it. It is ironic that the reply to a personal complaint was aired on national television - where I first learned of it - without any prior indication to me that this would be the case.

A statement released in the Press on 20 August (ostensibly based upon comments made by an unnamed University official) pointed out that it was unlikely the Council would rule against the Vice-Chancellor. On 21 August I made a personal offer to the Chancellor to provide evidence to substantiate claims made in my complaint or give personal testimony. That offer was declined within two hours. Taken together these two facts present a case for predetermination.

Roy Sharp saw no need to prevent the History Department from destroying 500 copies of a journal. The Council sees no problem with this. Instead they release a statement affirming that the Vice-Chancellor has done nothing either by acting or not acting which "failed to protect, promote or enhance academic freedom."

I would like to know how burning books (or shredding magazines) protects, promotes and enhances academic freedom. Dissenters in the Middle Ages had their books burned under firm instructions: "Roma locuta, causa finita est." That is, "Rome has spoken, the matter is concluded." The Council has spoken but that is not the end of the matter. The medieval church was unassailable, the Canterbury Council is not.

Thanks to Peter Hempenstall and Roy Sharp what would have been nothing more than an obscure article in a journal read by a few hundred people mainly in New Zealand has become an international episode and the fate of Joel Hayward has come to the attention of a far larger audience than any reasonable person could have envisioned.

While I disagree with the Chancellor on several matters there is one thing on which we agree: considerable damage has been inflicted upon the value and integrity of this University.

Thomas A. Fudge

Senior Lecturer
University of Canterbury


Our dossier on the Joel Hayward case
Reader's letter by Martin Lally to The Listener
The Listener article
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 item
© Focal Point 2003 e-mail:  write to David Irving