Durham University senior academics were accused last night of creating a mob Left-wing students to overthrow the college’s head in a free speech row.

South College’s principal, Professor Tim Luckhurst has been expelled from public office for five weeks. This was after he criticized students who marched out of the room when Rod Liddle spoke to them at an official dinner.

The ex-editor of The Scotsman Prof Luckhurst was suspended. This raises new concerns about freedom of speech at UK universities.

Now, The MoS can reveal the heads of at least 13 of Durham’s 17 colleges, along with other professors and heads of departments, have thrown their weight behind those who protested at Mr Liddle’s speech. 

Professor Tim Luckhurst (pictured), principal of Durham¿s South College, branding a walkout by woke students ¿pathetic¿

Professor Tim Luckhurst (pictured), principal of Durham’s South College, branding a walkout by woke students ‘pathetic’ 

Rod Liddle was invited by Professor Tim Luckhurst, an old friend and former newspaper editor who is now the College's Principal

Rod Liddle was invited to the College by Professor Tim Luckhurst. He is an old friend, former editor of a newspaper and now Principal.

The students have been supported by at least four academic departments.

In emails sent to students last week – many of which used almost identical wording – academics deplored Mr Liddle’s supposed ‘intolerant and hurtful’ remarks and described the ‘upset caused’ as ‘deeply concerning’.

Professor Carolyn Summerbell, principal of John Snow College, which neighbours South College, said: ‘I stand in solidarity with all those targeted in Rod Liddle’s speech and with those who exercised their freedoms by walking out of the formal [dinner]…

‘I condemn the verbal abuse of students in any and all contexts.’

Professor Simon Forrest, principal at St Hild and St Bede College, said: ‘Like you, I find the upset caused by this event deeply concerning. I want you to know that I deplore the intolerant and hurtful remarks attributed to the speaker.’

Dr Susan Frenk, principal of St Aidan’s College, urged students who have been ‘personally affected’ to ‘reach out to student support’. ‘The pain cannot be erased, but we can try to play our part in healing the wounds,’ she added.

Mr Liddle began his speech on December 3 by joking that he was ‘disappointed’ not to see any sex workers that night – a reference to recent controversy over safety training provided by Durham to student sex workers. It also dealt with trans-related issues.

One 21-year-old student who attended the dinner said that a table of about a dozen students walked out before Mr Liddle, a former editor of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, had said ‘anything of any substance’. ‘Then, over the course of the speech, after every point Rod made there would be a dribble of people going out. But the vast majority stayed and the vast majority gave him an ovation at the end.’ 

The vast majority of students didn't know who he was. So they used mobile phones to search for 'Rod Liddle' via Google. Pictured: Durham students protest after Rod Liddle's speech

Most students did not know his identity. Students used Google to find Rod Liddle on their smartphones. Pictured: Durham students protest after Rod Liddle’s speech

Protesting youngsters carried flags and banners with messages such as 'sod Rod', 'proud to be pathetic' and 'no hate'

The banners displayed messages like’sod Rod,’ ‘proudly pathetic’, and ‘no hatred’.

Prof Luckhurst further angered the students by describing those who walked out as ‘pathetic’, while his wife was filmed saying: ‘What are you frightened of, you silly people?’ Hundreds of students protested on campus last week and have threatened to stop paying rent.

Tory MP Robert Halfon, chairman of the Commons education select committee, accused the students of ‘a witch-hunt against a respected academic’: ‘I’ve got no problem with students demonstrating, as is their right, but trying to get Tim Luckhurst sacked is ridiculous.’

Meanwhile, other supporters of Prof Luckhurst have highlighted how Durham University’s website carries a policy statement which trumpets that ‘freedom of expression is a fundamental right’. Toby Young, of the Free Speech Union, said: ‘The fact senior members of the University are whipping up a mob of censorious student activists against a colleague is shocking.

‘They appear not to have read Durham’s freedom of expression policy. These values should be maintained by College Principals. They also have the legal obligation to ensure freedom of expression within campus law. Something has gone very wrong at Durham.’

The MoS also understands that academics from other universities have emailed Prof Luckhurst their support and that a ‘silent majority’ of Durham students back him.

Row ringleader of the student backlash against Rod Liddle’s speech at Durham University is a Jeremy Corbyn supporter who stood for the Labour Party 


One of the ringleaders of the student backlash against Rod Liddle’s speech at Durham University is a Jeremy Corbyn supporter who stood for the Labour Party at the local elections earlier this year.

Sean Hannigan (22-year-old president of South College’s Junior Common Room) addressed 300 protesters on Wednesday. He supported calls for rent to be stopped by students.

He said: ‘The only way that the university will listen is if it hits them financially. This country belongs to us, gay people and black people and every person who lives here.’ Borrowing a slogan from Mr Corbyn, the politics graduate said: ‘We need to stand up for this country and its rights and build a new country for the many, not the few.’

Mr Hannigan was at the dinner at South College where Rod Liddle gave a talk on December 3, covering trans issues, women’s rights and racism.

Sean Hannigan, 22, (pictured) is a ringleader of the backlash against Rod Liddle¿s speech at Durham University

Sean Hannigan (22) is the leader in the backlash against Rod Liddle’s Durham University speech. 

The 'woke' mob had ramped up its campaign to oust Professor Luckhurst last night as seven societies accused him of 'gross misconduct'

As seven organizations accused Professor Luckhurst of gross misconduct, the ‘woke mob’ had intensified its efforts to expel him.

Mr Hannigan is a Jeremy Corbyn supporter who stood for the Labour Party at the local elections this year

Hannigan was a supporter for Jeremy Corbyn and he voted Labour Party this year at the local election.

The student gave his own speech afterwards, condemning Mr Liddle’s remarks, which was greeted by cheers and applause from student attendees, according to the Palatinate student newspaper.

As a parliamentary intern, Mr Hannigan was employed by Shadow Transport Minister Matt Rodda for a month in 2019. He now hopes to be a Labour MP. In May’s local election for Oxfordshire County Council, he ran unsuccessfully for Labour and won just 577 votes.

He posted on Instagram: ‘The Labour Party, particularly since Corbyn, has provided people like me with an alternative – and an end to austerity.’

Seun Twins, the left-wing student leader behind a campaign to oust a Durham University lecturer, has previously described Jeremy Corbyn as 'the white king' and suggested Tories should be 'dealt with'

Seun Twins, the left-wing student leader behind a campaign to oust a Durham University lecturer, has previously described Jeremy Corbyn as ‘the white king’ and suggested Tories should be ‘dealt with’

The Free Speech Union slammed the five officers who penned a rambling statement in a bid to oust South College principal Professor Tim Luckhurst

The Free Speech Union slammed the five officers who penned a rambling statement in a bid to oust South College principal Professor Tim Luckhurst

The Free Speech Union lambasted the officers, (pictured two), who wrote a lengthy statement to try and oust South College principal Tim Luckhurst.

Durham Students' Union has been blasted for demanding a leading academic resign after he invited journalist Rod Liddle to talk at a dinner party

Durham Students' Union has been blasted for demanding a leading academic resign after he invited journalist Rod Liddle to talk at a dinner party

Two of the five Durham Student’s Union officers are shown here. They demanded that a prominent academic quit after Rod Liddle invited him to speak at a dinner party.

Seun Twins, Jack Ballingham, Jonah Graham, Declan Merrington and Charlie Procter (pictured) claimed hosting one of the UK's best known writers was an 'abuse of power'

Seun Twins Jack Ballingham and Jonah Graham (pictured), claimed that hosting Declan Merrington, Charlie Procter, Jonah Graham and Declan Merrington was an “abuse” of power.

Seun Twins, Jack Ballingham, Jonah Graham, Declan Merrington and Charlie Procter claimed hosting one of the UK's best known writers (pictured) was an 'abuse of power'

The five officers penned a rambling statement in a bid to oust South College principal Professor Tim Luckhurst (pictured)

Seun Twins Jack Ballingham and Jonah Graham as well as Declan Merrington (left), claimed they were a victim to an ‘abuse power’ by hosting Jonah Graham’s writer, Declan Merrington. Right: Prof Luckhurst

He said ‘families like mine have suffered’ under austerity. His family home is a £600,000 semi-detached house in the village of Crowmarsh Gifford near Henley-on-Thames.

Other hard-Left campaigners are demanding the removal of Professor Tim Luckhurst, the principal of South College, who has been suspended after he criticised students for walking out of Mr Liddle’s talk.

Durham students’ union president Seun Twins, who called for the professor to be sacked and said his position was ‘untenable’, has described Mr Corbyn as ‘the white king’ and suggested that Tories should be ‘dealt with’.

Is this what Rod Liddle said in the University of Durham speech?

The full text of Rod Liddle’s speech to the University of Durham is not yet available. However, Palatinate has reported the speech’s contents.

The newspaper reports that Liddle began his Friday speech by stating that he was sad to not see any sex workers during the event.

It was a reference to the recent controversy over safety training Durham University provided to student sex workers. 

Liddle then claimed that the left was going against ‘science or pure facts,’ saying ‘a person with an X and a Y chromosome, that has a long, dangling penis, is scientifically a man, and that is pretty much, scientifically, the end of the story’, according to the paper.

On a completely different subject, he continued: “It’s quite easy to show that colonialism was not the main cause of Africa’s problems. Just as it’s very simple to prove that educational underachievement in British Caribbean-Americans or African Americans has nothing to do institutional or structural racism.” 

Liddle also commented on the UK’s forced-adoption policy from 1945 to 1975.

He stated that the attitudes put women first and not the children.

His speech ended with an appeal to attendees to listen to their opinions and not to judge them. 

Palatinate said that 12 students had walked out of the classroom before Palatinate began her speech, and some more during it.

A small group of students applauded the speaker at the end. However, it is customary to raise for the High Table as the Speaker leaves. Nearly all the other students in the room stayed seated. As Liddle left, some shouted at Liddle, describing him as “disgusting” and “racist”.

A whole generation is puzzled at the notion that any person has the right not to agree with them, says PETER HITCHENS 


Britain has already banned free speech. Only the chattering classes are not aware of it. We have once again seen a clearly visible case where a mob is demanding limits on the amount of information that can be said.

Durham’s Professor Tim Luckhurst has had to apologise, because he called his own students ‘pathetic’ for their conformism. Some of them had walked out after a speech at Durham’s South College by the provocative writer Rod Liddle.

You might have thought ‘pathetic’ was a mild rebuke to such behaviour, in a university supposedly dedicated to the open-minded search for knowledge. No. This one word was enough to trigger a parade of noisy outrage and – more importantly – to send the university authorities running for cover. They didn’t seem to be able to stand by him.

You can still say some nonconformist stuff in magazines and newspapers, as well as in schools and universities. This is possible also on smaller broadcasting stations with low audiences and bits of internet.

I am – for the moment – one of the luckier ones. It won’t last forever, but I don’t expect it. For most people, it is evident that free speech has ended. 

Protesters (pictured) congregated outside South College clutching Black Lives Matter placards and chanting 'Hey, hey, ho, ho, Tim Luckhurst has got to go!'

South College was occupied by protesters holding Black Lives Matter signs and singing ‘Hey Tim Luckhurst, ho, ho!

Durham University students stand with their banners as they stage a protest at South College

Durham University students hold their banners while protesting at South College

They claimed he promoted 'a culture of harm and hate' by inviting Mr Liddle to give his speech

The claim was that he encouraged a culture of hate and harm by inviting Mr Liddle for his speech

If you step outside of the acceptable boundaries in school or work, it is easy to be denounced quickly and get into serious trouble.

Some issues, like the transgender debate, are so complex that it’s almost impossible to speak without drawing the attention of The Thought Police.

Surprisingly, most of the women who speak up on this issue are Left-wing radical feminists. Conservatives wouldn’t dare to do this and would wisely conceal behind Julie Bindel or J. K. Rowling.

In workplaces, from fire stations to schools, everything must conform with ‘Equality and Diversity’. It is actually the law. Trade unions that still exist will support new speech codes, but they won’t defend you. It is not something that most people would risk.

A large number of opinions have now been classified broadly as ‘Fascist’. This word does not mean ‘supporter of Fascism’. George Orwell pointed out more than 70 years ago that ‘The word Fascism has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies “something not desirable” ’.

However, it is now more. Amusingly, it is not applicable to Fascists.

It is very telling that the word ‘Fascist’ was not aimed at Max Mosley, the prominent critic of British newspapers, by the British Left. Even though Mr Mosley was once brawling for his father Sir Oswald (a self-described Fascist), this is not surprising. When a youth, he painted Fascist symbols to walls.

Worst, he was revealed to be the publisher of racist leaflets at an age when it was obvious that he should and could have known better. 

South College students were protested by a group of Left-wingers calling for an inclusive, safer campus.

They claimed it breached the Equality Act and demanded 'disciplinary regulations' be brought to bear on the professor - who has been gagged from commenting

They claimed that it was in violation of the Equality Act.

This did not deprive him of his Left-wing supporters. Because they loved his attacks on Fleet Street newspapers, this was why. They see national newspapers as an important force for democratic conservatism and want to get them out of power.

Although the Left may not consider Max Mosley Fascists for their jokes, I am sure that they would call me one. It is available to anyone who disagrees with Fascism.

Among millions, the idea that you can defend someone’s right to say something you disagree with is now puzzling. They don’t understand why anybody would want to do this. They believe the debate is finished, that they won and that those opposing them are wrong and stupid.

Tolerance has been almost extinct in this generation.

It’s fascinating to see that those with dominant views are starting to make jokes about killing people who don’t agree. These jokes are a bit too sexist for me. I’ve known people who made fun of their worst thoughts and desires.

This new group of totalitarians is likely to strongly oppose the death penalty in murder. However, in Oxford, where I live, there are many who wear T-shirts that say A Platform For Fascists. They also have a photo of the guillotine. It was this instrument with which the French Revolutionaries executed thousands of conservative supporters after their kangaroo trials. You can buy these witty garments for a bargain £12.84 on the internet.

By Monday, with the affair generating national headlines, Prof Luckhurst had been suspended from public roles and removed from a forthcoming fundraising trip to the U.S. Pictured:  A female student holds a placard at the protest

An open letter from students claiming to be 'distressed' and 'emotional' due to Liddle's remarks garnered more than 1,000 online signatures. Pictured: A Durham student at the protest

By Monday, with the affair generating national headlines, Prof Luckhurst had been suspended from public roles and removed from a forthcoming fundraising trip to the U.S. Pictured:  Two women at the protests

A small number of student activists marched on South College yesterday in their latest attempt to get the professor sacked

In their latest effort to fire the professor, South College was invaded by a few student activists yesterday.

The activists gathered on a green with placards reading 'mansplain, manipulate, manwife' and 'we're queer, we're here'

They gathered together on a green, holding placards that read’mansplaine, manipulate, womanwife’ and “we’re queer. we’re there.”

So, while I applaud Toby Young’s efforts to combat this dark age with his Free Speech Union (to whom I belong), I feel the cause has been lost.

I received a warning about the future a few years ago. I went to speak to a meeting at Balliol College in Oxford, about a favourite subject – the foolish destruction of state grammar schools. When I got near the college, I was stopped by the organizers to tell me I was being protested.

The demonstrators awaited me, carrying hand-made placards declaring ‘History will forget you’, ‘Stop Platforming Hate’, and ‘Welcome to our Heresy Hunt’.

They had initially decided to protest me in complete silence and marched backwards before me, holding placards and looking hostile.

One of the boys was walking in a backwards direction and I attempted to warn him, but she refused to listen to me Fascist advice. She got mixed up in the bush.

I tried not to giggle, and I took a leaflet that one of the men had handed me. In it, I was detailed for many offenses against political correctness throughout many years. It was entitled The Words Of Peter Hitchens – A Brief Guide To The Bigotry And Vanity Of Peter Hitchens. It was very close to being true. It used partial quotation and slanted reporting speech to make me seem worse than I am. It gave me the impression that I was motivated more by hate than dislike for ideas and policies.

This is what everyone will face. That was the accusation I would face in my trial. It will happen if I’m alive long enough. The type of people involved in the demonstration over the next few years will include lawyers, police officers and civil servants, as well as journalists from BBC.

You will declare it. While freedom of speech is not as strong in the United States, it’s still free. However, dissenters won’t be tried or punished for their opinions. My opponents believe I spread hatred and have done real damage to vulnerable people. They do not view my words as expressions of opinion but as incitement to discrimination against certain people, and as ‘hate speech’ intended to harm.

They also view my doubts about the theory of man-made global warming as ‘denial’ of a fact which they regard as proven. They consider this to be a blatant attempt at sabotage efforts to stop this peril.

These are all modern forms of totalitarian countries that emerged between the 2 world wars in 20th century.

They believed they knew the truth and they thought those who stood in their way were evil.

Footage emerged of the professor and his wife Dorothy talking to 'woke' students who stormed out of the speech on Friday night

Footage was captured of Dorothy, the wife of Dorothy, talking to students who woke up after the Friday speech

This happened in Germany, Italy, and Russia through the use of crude power seizes backed up by street violence. It was followed by a civil war barbaric in Spain.

It has been the most brilliant revolution in human history. This was achieved through the peaceful and often dull seizing of control over the mind. Are you aware of what your school teaches children about the environment, immigration, and sex? Of course you don’t, though some of my readers report that their children received dirty looks from teachers when they revealed that The Mail on Sunday was delivered to their home.

They have believed that school was like your experiences. But it isn’t. It is not the same with university. There, one set of ideas can be reinforced over and again by books, teachers and even by powerful clubs and societies.

We have had a lot of fun over the last 30 years laughing at the politicization of BBC entertainment. In which even Agatha Christie mysteries and Doctor Who are used for political messages, Call The Midwife is also included.

Professor Luckhurst tried to calm the students who gawped at him as he educated them on free speech at universities

While educating them about free speech at universities, Professor Luckhurst attempted to soothe the students as they stared at him.

How we chuckled at ‘Loony Left’ Labour councils of the 1980s, with their busts of Lenin and Red Flags in the town hall, their courting of Sinn Fein and their agenda of sexual liberation.

We laughed and it got more intense. While Ken Livingstone might be marginal now, what is it that matters when his policies today are embraced and defended by the Conservative Party?

Tim Luckhurst is a case that shows, despite claims to the contrary, that political conformity among campuses is being dealt with.

It is not clear if he will be allowed to continue his job. Will he perhaps be forced to wear a dunce’s cap and paraded round the university with his head bowed and a placard round his neck denouncing his crimes? At the very least, this would help more people understand what is happening.

The course we are on now looks a lot like the Chinese Cultural Revolution from the 1960s. Indoctrinated Red Guards took down everything that they could not comprehend and made way for a more narrow, less accepting world.

It is much worse than what you believe and it is impossible to imagine its size. That is why so many don’t realize it until it is too late.