Seized Sussex student newspaper distributed with offending article cut out

Posted On 30 Sep 2015 at 2:33 pm

The staff of Sussex student newspaper The Badger have been busy cutting out a potentially libellous article from copies seized by the students’ union so it can be handed out on campus again.

The editor of the University of Sussex student newspaper Paul Millar was suspended on Monday after he sent the paper to press without it being signed off by the union.

At issue was a story which claimed Michael Segalov, one of five students wrongly suspended by the university over protests in 2013, was suing the university for defamation – and linked this to university vice chancellor Michael Farthing standing down.

The story contained no quotes from either Mr Segalov, Professor Farthing or the university.

Mr Segalov declined to comment to Brighton and Hove News when asked to confirm he was taking legal action, the university strongly denied any suggestion this was why he was leaving.

A spokeswoman for the University of Sussex said: “Michael Farthing has decided to leave the university as his current contract is due to end in 2017. He and the university’s governing council, who are responsible for appointing the vice-chancellor, want to ensure they allow enough time to appoint a successor.

“Michael is 67 years old. As his current contract is coming to an end, he felt the time was right to pursue a portfolio of interests in medicine, health and education as well as personal projects. He will continue to serve as a member of the General Medical Council and is a trustee of the Charleston Festival.”

The students’ union said it had launched an investigation into how the paper went to press, which it hoped to have completed by the end of the week.

Communications manager Jo Walters said yesterday afternoon: “We have received advice that supports our concerns that content in the most recent issue is potentially defamatory, concerns raised with The Badger last week.

“Any legal action could be costly and could threaten the future of the union. The topic of the article is not of concern, however we believe the way it has been covered leaves us open to legal challenge.

“We have a responsibility to protect the Union and its student members which is why we didn’t want to publish an article that we believe puts us at risk of legal action.

“We are working with the Badger team to gather information and legal opinions on this. We’re keen to work with the Badger team to enable them to get back to publishing content.”

This is not the first time the editorial team of The Badger have got into hot water with the student union – in 2002 editor Richard Gurner, who went on to work for The Argus and who now runs the award-winning Caerphilly Observer, was fired over a ribald caption on a photograph of “racist” professor  Geoffrey Sampson.

He said: “It’s good to see firebrand student journalism is alive and well at Sussex.”

  1. Adam Campbell Reply

    Sounds a bit like Saudi Arabia cutting bits out of newspapers. Thought Uni’s were meant to be bastions of free speech.

  2. Joe Stains Reply

    Immature children, first time away from ‘mummy and daddy’; they have a LOT of growing-up to do, and a lot to learn about Libel law

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