PM’s former Oxford college launches inquiry into sexual harassment claims
The inquiry will be chaired by Alison Levitt QC, who carried out a review into the crimes of the late Jimmy Savile.
An independent inquiry is being launched into allegations of misconduct and sexual harassment at the Prime Minister’s former Oxford college.
St Hugh’s has confirmed that its governing body commissioned the investigation following claims about the behaviour of a now-deceased Fellow.
It is understood the Fellow is Professor David Robertson, who died in August last year.
The inquiry was set up after author Mel McGrath wrote an article on the website The Pool, accusing Professor Robertson of “doing a Weinstein on me” – a reference to Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein – when she was an undergraduate in the 1980s.
The inquiry will be chaired by Alison Levitt QC, who carried out a review into the crimes of the late Jimmy Savile and who has been tipped to become the new director of public prosecutions.
Ms McGrath wrote: “David, who was my tutor, held tutorials in his flat on college grounds and had an uncanny knack for scheduling a shower, at whatever time of day, just before I arrived.
“He’d open the door – as if innocently – dressed in his bathrobe and, one time, in a tiny towel.
“For the next hour I would have to undergo the humiliating experience of reading my essay, on which I had laboured hard and with serious intent, while David sat opposite, half-naked and man spreading, often smelling of alcohol and sipping from a mug of what was never tea or coffee.”
Ms McGrath was also critical of St Hugh’s, saying that if the authorities at the time had not heard the rumours about Prof Robertson’s alleged behaviour “they couldn’t have been listening very hard”.
The college confirmed that an investigation had been launched and released its terms of reference, but a spokeswoman said it would be inappropriate to comment until the investigation was complete.
The terms of reference given to Ms Levitt read: “The College has recently received allegations of historic misconduct and sexual harassment about a now deceased Fellow from two former students.
“The College requests you to carry out an independent investigation about these allegations and whether the circumstances of these or of similar allegations were known to the members of governing body or management staff of the College.
“If so, to report on the adequacy and appropriateness of the College’s responses and any action taken in respect of such allegations or circumstances, with any recommendations for action.”
St Hugh’s was founded in 1886 “to open up the opportunities of an Oxford education to poorer women”. It accepted its first male students in 1987.
Former students include the Prime Minister Theresa May, Burmese politician Aung San Suu Kyi, Amal Clooney and suffragette Emily Davison.