Police launch hate crime investigation at Bristol University

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Police launch hate crime investigation at Bristol University

Officers said they were looking to establish if an offence had taken place after furore over Professor David Miller

Prof David Miller
Prof David Miller

Police are probing whether hate crimes have been committed in connection with lectures from a Bristol academic who called for an end to Zionism.

Professor David Miller, a sociology lecturer at the top university, sparked condemnation across the Jewish community when he accused Jewish students at the university of being “pawns” of Israel.

The matter has been raised in Parliament, while hundreds of MPs have signed a letter to the university urging them to take action over the academic. 

Bristol said earlier this month it had launched an internal confidential investigation into Miller.

Now officers at Avon and Somerset Police say they are urging students to speak to them to determine whether any hate crimes have taken place.

“We have recently been made aware of a number of incidents that may constitute a hate crime or hate incident taking place during lectures at the University of Bristol,” said a spokesman.

“We take issues such as these very seriously. An email was circulated to student groups last week asking people to speak to the police regarding their experiences.

“Our investigation is at an early stage and enquiries are ongoing to establish if any offences have been committed.

“Our aim is to help everyone to feel safe and supported while studying in Bristol and we are working closely with the university at this time.”

Separately, a government whip today told the House of Lords that he believed Miller had expressed some “ill-founded and reprehensible views.”

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay said the government “wholeheartedly rejects” them, and urged students to contact police if they believed any laws had been broken.

Anyone with information is being asked to contact 101 and quoting the reference 5221036233.

A Bristol University spokeswoman said: “The University is seeking clarification from Avon and Somerset Police. If notified of a formal investigation, we will of course cooperate.

“Our freedom of speech policy underlines the vital importance of the right of staff and students, as members of a free and democratic society, to speak openly without fear of censorship or limitation, provided that this right is exercised responsibly, within the law, and with respect for others who may have differing views.”

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