Queen’s University has confirmed ongoing engagement with the PSNI over the “safety and welfare” of all staff.
The University was speaking after a leading human rights law firm urged the University to defend its academic staff in the wake of an ongoing loyalist and unionist campaign targeting human rights law Professor Colin Harvey over his work with the Ireland's Future group.
Acting on behalf of Professor Harvey, KRW Law said that he has endured a “sustained campaign of intimidation and harassment.” The university has condemned “threatening and abusive commentary” towards Professor Harvey and added that a “member of the University Management team has ongoing contact with Professor Harvey.” Queen's also said that it had made contact with the PSNI "who now have ongoing engagement with the University security team".
A recent report on the constitutional future of Ireland, published by Professor Colin Harvey and Mark Bassett BL, includes the University’s logo – something that was “sought in advance and definitively authorised” by the relevant authorities in Queen’s, the law firm has confirmed. This came after widespread criticism of Professor Harvey and Queen's over the inclusion of the Queen's logo on the front of the report.
If @J_Donaldson_MP had asked me directly first.— Colin Harvey (@cjhumanrights) October 29, 2022
I would have told him:
*I requested and received advance written approval from @QUBelfast for the use of the logo on our research report.*
Further information about my academic work is available here: https://t.co/LA4LbgSRe7 pic.twitter.com/dPfZJnljmR
The university said it “strongly supports freedom of thought and expression within a framework of respect for the rights of other persons.
“Academic freedom is enshrined as a guiding principle in the University’s Charter and Statute," Queen's said. "The University fully supports the right of its academic staff to publish work and express academic opinion within this framework.”
KRW Law added: “Approval for the use of the University logo was explicitly sought in advance and was definitively authorised by the appropriate authority in QUB. We are surprised and disappointed that this explicit authority has not been publicly acknowledged in recent discourse surrounding the report.
"We urge the University to defend its academic staff and further we underline that legitimate inquiry, scholarship and the ability of staff to conduct research, teach, speak, and publish without interference or penalty must be protected and maintained.
"We deplore attacks on academics as being inconsistent with the principle of academic freedom and appeal to the University to reaffirm its commitment to all staff and their right to question, test and to put forward ideas without fear of placing themselves in jeopardy.
The University condemns the threatening and abusive commentary towards Professor Colin Harvey.— Queen's University Belfast 🎓 (@QUBelfast) October 31, 2022
Please see the University's statement below. pic.twitter.com/cnKEOW2uTc
"Academics from Queen’s University Belfast are being targeted by those opposed to the research in which they are engaged – including on constitutional change, Brexit and the Protocol.
"We deplore such attacks, and seek to put on record the value of legitimate inquiry and the right to question and test received wisdom and to put forward new ideas, without being under threat or being penalised for doing so.
"In particular, and following a sustained campaign of intimidation and harassment over several years, we expect the University to issue a definitive public statement in support of Professor Colin Harvey and thus acknowledge his significant contribution to research, education and administration over decades.”