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The Listener

New Zealand, September, 2003

IllustrationTo the Editor
[New Zealand]

WE NOTE with interest your recent article about the Hayward/Fudge controversy at the University of Canterbury (Canterbury Tales, Sept 20), and its references to a Petition circulated by us and whose 120 signatories include 60 academics. Your article characterises "holocaust denial" as a form of anti-Semitism, and finishes by stating that

"And in New Zealand, the Holocaust deniers have found otherwise reputable academics who are able to be exploited by this hatred."

As you should be perfectly aware, the Petition (of which a copy was made available to the writer of your article, and can be obtained from me at has absolutely nothing to do with the content of Dr [Joel] Haywood's thesis or with the content of Dr Fudge's article on the affair. It is concerned solely with the processes that the University of Canterbury followed and the dangerous implications of these for fundamental freedoms. Most particularly, it criticises the University for its public disparagement of the thesis of one of its former students, despite the fact that its own legal advice was that only dishonesty provided grounds for acting against the student, along with the fact that its own judgement was that the thesis was not dishonest.

The following analogy might be useful. Suppose it appeared that some police force had tortured a suspect for the purpose of gaining information, and you thought the suspect both guilty and totally reprehensible. Suppose also that a petition was circulated criticising the use of torture by the police, and it was organised and supported by a number of academics. Would it be sensible for you or anyone else to state that supporters of the suspect had "found otherwise reputable academics who are able to be exploited"? Would it not be more sensible to simply write an article investigating the allegation that the police had tortured the suspect?

If you agree that this would be a more sensible approach in this case, why not write an article that details the points in the Petition, and then offer your view on whether they are valid points of criticism of the University of Canterbury. Every day that passes with merely random abuse, insinuation of Nazi links, and assertions of being "exploited" by such people, but no attempt to actually rebut the points in the Petition, reinforces our view that the points made in the Petition are simply unassailable.

On the other hand, if you actually think that violations of due process should be ignored in certain cases, perhaps you could just say so, and we would at least know where you stood. Armed with this sort of clarification, the University of Canterbury might then feel emboldened to stone the next offender to death, confident that any protests could be rebutted with the same line of argument.

Dr Martin Lally

Committee for Action over the Hayward/Fudge Events
   at the University of Canterbury 



Our dossier on the Joel Hayward case
Other letters to The Listener
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 items
© Focal Point 2003 e-mail:  write to David Irving