An anti-privatisation protester at the University of Sussex has received a formal apology and £20,000 in damages after being accused of criminal behaviour for a protest in late 2013.
In 2013, hundreds of students joined protests on the Sussex campus against the outsourcing of more than 200 jobs to an external company. Five protesters, including Michael Segalov, then an undergraduate law student, were disciplined.
22-year-old Segalov was suspended, banned from campus, and accused of “intimidating behaviour, theft, damage and violence” by the University after sit-ins and demonstrations in November and December 2013.
The university published two bulletins about the protests on its website, titled ‘University starts disciplinary process over persistent disruption of campus’ and ‘Disciplinary processes continue as University lifts student suspensions’, in which they made accusations that Segalov organised and led unlawful occupation of University property, and carried out criminal behaviour.
Over 200 academic staff wrote directly to Vice-Chancellor Michael Farthing who has recently announced he will step down, criticising the University’s response as disproportionate and threatening to the right to protest.
The university have now released an official apology, acknowledging “that there is no truth in any of these claims, and is happy to confirm this is the case. In particular it confirms that Mr Segalov did not engage in any form of intimidation, theft, assault of a member of staff and/or damage to university property.”
“Throughout my time as a student, I maintained that the campaigns I was part of were peaceful in nature, leaderless in their organisation, and had the support of the majority of students and staff,” said Segalov.
“The University of Sussex administration showed a blatant disregard for basic principles of law when attempting to clamp down on protests—suspending students wrongfully, banning protests, and publishing defamatory statements about me online.
“I’m relieved that the apology and statement in open court will show once and for all, and encourage students and activists across the country to continue to campaign for a fairer and free education system, and acts as a warning to administrations considering to act in similar ways as Sussex.”
The university have agreed to pay Mr Segalov’s legal fees, as well as £20,000 in damages.