Tag Archives: UWE

BristolBloggerGate: Three years on – the University of Liverpool, WordPress & censorship

Three years on from the original incident, fellow blogger EcoLogics has recapped some of the salient points in what some called BristolBloggerGate as something of a valedictory to the WP platform…

Exactly three years ago today, on 5 January 2010, WordPress took down several of this blog’s posts.

Actually, Ecologics didn’t fare too badly; even as a handful of my posts vanished without warning, WordPress, or rather its parent company, Automattic, closed down the entire blogs of some other writers (at least one has subsequently managed to find an alternative home). To be sure, WordPress also agreed to republish the censored posts. What we the censored bloggers had in common was that we had all published information about one Howard Newby, the former vice-chancellor (director) of the University of the West of England. It seems that Newby took exception to our views regarding a financial scandal which erupted around him in 2007, and which involved a private training firm which subsequently went bust (Carter & Carter).

Soon after the scandal emerged, and only about a year and a half since he first took up the post, Newby left UWE. But most peculiarly, it was not before three years had passed that the legal department of the University of Liverpool, Newby’s new home, got Automattic to close the blogs with information about Newby’s practices at UWE […]

I hope to revisit some of these issues again myself when I have the time. Perhaps even The Bristol Blogger – now relocated beyond the walled garden of WordPress.com, but quiet for nearly a year – might themself pipe up once more some time in 2013.

In the meantime, here’s a quick rundown of the various pieces I wrote about the whole Sir Howard Newby/Lady Sheila Newby/Kevan Ryan/University of the West of England/University of Liverpool clusterfuck:

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UWE occupied – momentum builds for Wednesday’s nationwide student walkout protest against fees & cuts

No, this isn't UWE, it's the Wills Memorial Building at the University of Bristol. Nice image, though - from isnotnecessary.wordpress.com

 

A group of students has occupied part of the University of the West of England (UWE) campus at Frenchay in Bristol.

The occupation has taken place in protest at rising fees and cuts at the University. Spokespersons for the protest say that it is in solidarity with staff and students across the country as well as for future generations who will be squeezed by the cuts.

On Wednesday 24 November there will be protests led by students – at universities, colleges and schools – across the country.

In Bristol the action timetable for Wednesday looks like this:

11am – University of the West of England Walkout begins across all campuses
12am – University of Bristol Walkout begins
12:30pm – All students (school, college, university) from across the city to assemble opposite Senate House, Tyndall Avenue
1:15pm – March to Wills Memorial Building

Links & contacts:

See you on the streets!

BristolBloggerGate: Search engine query of the day: Lady Sheila Newby’s salary

What’s that I spy?

Three views from a Google search on “lady newby’s salary at university of liv“?

Alas, I do not know how much Lady Sheila Newby, wife of University of Liverpool vice-chancellor Sir Howard Newby, is paid. I fear that to even hazard a guess might earn this blog some gardening leave at the hand of WordPress.com’s finest brains in concert with Liverpool Uni’s legal eagle Kevan Ryan.

But I am sure that there are readers out there who might be able to furnish us with the answer to this intriguing question, and perhaps even to flesh out the detail. If you can help, please do get in touch, or leave a comment here.

BristolBloggerGate: Newby’s numbers 15 and a half MILLION out!

The salad days of research funding riches have failed to materialise at the University of Liverpool – whose estimable vice chancellor Sir Howard Newby (formerly of this parish whilst cost-cutting at the University of the West of England) may be familiar to readers due to his involvement in the silencing of critical blogs – where a deficit of rising £14 million has emerged.

As the Times Higher Education puts it:

The University of Liverpool was more than £15 million out in its financial forecasts for the past academic year, accounts reveal.

The university had expected to end the year to July 2009 with a surplus of £2.3 million. However, when the accounts were collated an overall deficit of £13.2 million emerged.

…Liverpool’s financial statements say most of the deficit was due to lower than budgeted research income.

Of course, heads must roll, so naturally Michael Yuille*, the director of finance on whose watch this occurred, has helpfully fallen on his sword – which should help insulate the capo di tutti capi from the fallout from this… for the time being, at least.

Though, as THE notes “about 200 staff, most of whom were in non-academic positions, took voluntary severance last year at a cost of £3.98 million.”

A spokesman for the University and College Union at Liverpool questioned whether senior staff pay may be partly responsible for the state of the university’s finances.

Some 112 members of staff earned more than £100,000 last year, up from 88 the year before, and the university paid senior staff £324,000 in compensation for loss of office.

As an avid bean counter himself, Sir Howard has continued to exercise the passion for trimming personnel at Liverpool which he first showed such flair for whilst running UWE, though clearly not at the highest reaches of the organisation. Perhaps someone knows of a management consultancy that might be able to help?

* Students will no doubt be ecstatic to learn that the number-troubled Mr Yuille appears to have scored a new job… At the Student Loans Company.

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.

BristolBloggerGate: What would Jon Snow think of his old university trying to silence internet critics of Sir Howard Newby?

This BristolBloggerGate thing is rumbling on and on and on – it now appears that the party demanding that WordPress.com take down blog posts on the issue (scalps so far: The Bristol Blogger, EcoLogics and Sir Howard Newby Watch) is not former UWE vice chancellor Sir Howard Newby but instead his current employer the University of Liverpool!

I wonder what former Liverpool student and current Channel 4 News anchor Jon Snow – who is also a patron of Media Defence Legal Initiative, which provides “legal support to journalists and media outlets who seek to protect their right to freedom of expression” – makes of all this…

BristolBloggerGate: Wot Private Eye said about Sir Howard Newby back in 2007…

So BristolBloggerGate is rumbling on, and I decided to check through my Private Eye collection, and lo! I turned up a copy from 2007 (no.1185, 25th May-7th June) which mentions then-University of the West of England vice-chancellor Sir Howard Newby in its ‘High Principals’ section. What’s interesting is that the suppressed posts on The Bristol Blogger and on EcoLogics cover much the same concerns, as any fule with the nous to try a cache search will be able to tell you.

So in the words of teh y00t, wagwan WordPress?