BristolBloggerGate: Why was Liverpool University so reticent in releasing details of Sir Howard Newby’s appointment?

The University of Liverpool might regret kicking off BristolBloggerGate, seeing how now every internet sleuth and their aunt is out looking for clues as to what is really going on.

For example, a search for Sir Howard Newby on What Do They Know? throws up an April 2009 request for the “report by the [Liverpool University] Joint Committee relating to the appointment of Professor Sir Howard Newby”.

The University’s ‘Freedom of Information Co-ordinator’ Lesley Jackson initially stonewalled, citing exemptions on the grounds of ‘prejudice to the effective conduct of public affairs’ and commercial interest, but Julian Todd, who made the application, stood his ground and argued effectively that these exemptions did not apply. Two months after the initial request, Kevan Ryan – the director of legal services at Liverpool who appears to have been the one calling on WordPress.com to silence critical bloggers – finally responded by giving Mr Todd the document reproduced above.

Of course, this one page document does seem to fall short of what one might imagine a report on the selection of a vice-chancellor of a major university would look like.

Perhaps the pending WDTK request to the University of Liverpool asking for “information regarding all the legal advice and/or legal work the university has purchased from any provider between 1 January 2008 – date” might shed some light on this, and on the reasons behind BristolBloggerGate.

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4 responses to “BristolBloggerGate: Why was Liverpool University so reticent in releasing details of Sir Howard Newby’s appointment?

  1. Do you know if Newby was familiar with any of the panel? Given that we now have the names of the people responsible, it might be interesting to find out.
    Good job on getting the document and this blog online, good to know someone still cares about transparency in higher education.

  2. he was the external consultant to the appointment process so it would be very likely!

  3. Sir Martin Harris is former VC of the University of Manchester before it took over, sorry, merged with UMIST.

    He also holds various other positions which might be relevant: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Harris_(academic)

  4. Pingback: BristolBloggerGate: Three years on – the University of Liverpool, WordPress & censorship | Bristle's Blog from the BunKRS

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