The showtrial of Felix Ngole

Jul 12, 2019 by

by Andrew Tettenborn, spiked:

If you’re a student, be careful what you say. You never know who could be checking up on you.

Four years ago, Felix Ngole, a social-work student at Sheffield University and a devout Christian, posted his views about same-sex marriage and homosexuality online. Commenting on a news story, Ngole wrote, among other things, that ‘the Bible and God identify homosexuality as a sin’. Another student found the posts and reported them to the university.

Ngole was thrown off his course. The views he expressed, and his refusal to recant, were said to indicate unfitness to practise within the rules of the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). The university’s appeals body and the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education supported the decision, as did the High Court. Last week, however, Ngole successfully had the decision overturned in the Court of Appeal.

[…]  But this aside, the judgement was very limited. It dealt solely with the procedures adopted by the university and its decision that the only possible result was exclusion. The court did not call into question the right of a university or a professional body to monitor and sanction students’ online comments or social-media posts. The message from the court seemed to be that, had the university got the procedure right, it could have legitimately excluded Ngole. Most tellingly, the court did not order the university to reinstate him. Instead, he now has to go through the whole hearing process at the university again.

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