International Campaign for Real History

Quick navigation

Alphabetical site index (text)link [Images added by this website]


Christchurch, New Zealand, August 19, 2003

University leader's job under threat


THE position of Canterbury University Vice-Chancellor Roy Sharp will be reviewed after a complaint over his handling of what some regard as a book-burning scandal.

History lecturer Thomas Fudge has made a formal complaint against Professor Sharp, claiming he mismanaged the issue and suppressed academic freedom.

University spokesman Jeff Field said last night that Chancellor Robin Mann had ordered the vice-chancellor's employment committee to review Professor Sharp's position.

The committee would report back to a full university council meeting on Wednesday next week.

Dr Fudge claims Professor Sharp gave "false and misleading" statements to the media, and wilfully suppressed academic freedom.

In May, the university ordered copies of the history department's journal, History Now, which contained a controversial article by Dr Fudge, to be destroyed.

Last week Dr Fudge wrote to the university council with three complaints over the issue.

He said the Vice-Chancellor had badly mismanaged the controversy "to the extent of bringing serious and sustained disrepute on the university" and had behaved in an inconsistent manner.

Dr Fudge said his academic freedom had been violated and he had been directed not to comment on the matter in lectures.

The two-page letter, detailing Dr Fudge's concerns, also suggested council members should consider Professor Sharp's "continuation as Vice-Chancellor".

The article revisited the firestorm that surrounded the 1993 Masters thesis of former Canterbury student Joel Hayward, which questioned the validity of Holocaust history. The thesis:

  • Questioned whether Hitler personally ordered the physical extermination of the Jews.
  • Questioned whether gas chambers were used systematically to murder Jews in European concentration camps.
  • Suggested that while millions of Jews had died at the hands of the Nazis, it was impossible to know how many.

Dr Fudge, who lectures on medieval religious dissent and witch-hunting, explored what for Hayward became a career-ending controversy.

He revealed in the article that Dr Hayward had been harassed and had received death threats against his children. Dr Hayward suffered an emotional breakdown, and in June last year left his teaching post at Massey University.

Dr Fudge's article, The Fate of Joel Hayward in New Zealand Hands: From Holocaust Historian to Holocaust? was pulled from the magazine in May this year.

The man behind the controversy, Joel Hayward, said yesterday he felt it was inappropriate to comment, and the matter was best dealt with by the council.

"But what I would say is that Dr Fudge is a great asset to the university and I would hate to see him leave as he has promised to do.

"It will be the students who suffer."



Our dossier on the Joel Hayward case
Canberra MP Rodney Hide signs petition calling on University to recompense Joel Hayward
July 2003, NZ Herald: "Holocaust thesis ruined my life says historian"
Report of the Working Party established by University of Canterbury to Inquire into Hayward Case | summary
Holocaust scholar at heart of 'book burning' row | 'Book-burners' feared libel suit
Joel Hayward thesis: 'The Fate of Jews in German Hands' (zip file)
The Fate of Joel Hayward in New Zealand Hands: From Holocaust Historian to Holocaust? Part I | Part II
Death threats and breakdowns - the Holocaust thesis destroyed my life
© Focal Point 2003 e-mail:  write to David Irving