Expert condemns campaign to boycott Oxford Union over rape allegations as "premature" and "ill conceived"
By Camilla Turner, and Tom Brooks-Pollock
18 Jun 2014 Follow
A renowned expert in cyber stalking has labelled the campaign to boycott the Oxford Union while its president was under police investigation for rape as “absolute folly", following the announcement that he will not be charged.
The police said on Wednesday that no further action will be taken against Ben Sullivan, 21, who was arrested on May 7 on suspicion of rape and attempted rape of two undergraduates.
Jennifer Perry, CEO of the Digital Trust and author of the UK guidelines on digital risks, has said that Oxford University officials should have stepped in when an "ill conceived" boycott campaign as a result of the accusations spiralled out of control.
Interpol Secretary General Ronald Noble, who heeded calls by Sarah Pine, Oxford University Student Union (OUSU) vice president for women, to boycott the Union, said he stood by his decision.
The Secretary General added: “As President of the Oxford Union who was under investigation for rape, my advice was and remains that he should have resigned or taken a leave of absence until the criminal investigation was completed.”
After his arrest Mr Sullivan declined to resign from his position and survived a vote of no confidence.
Ms Perry said: "Creating an atmosphere of intimidation and gossip and accusation doesn't help get to the truth or resolve the situation.
"Muddying the waters as much as they did made the whole process much more difficult. I found the whole thing incredibly distasteful which is why I refused to cave into their intimidation.”
Ms Perry added that it would have been “advantageous” for Oxford University’s authorities to have stepped in.
“I think that the university has a hands-off approach on student groups and I would support that,” she said. “But where, on rare occasions, it has escalated to this level they should consider calling a meeting.”
Answering his bail, Mr Sullivan was told by police that “no further action” will be taken against him.
A Union spokesman said: "The Union can confirm that the President, Ben Sullivan, was informed by his lawyers at 15.50 today that Thames Valley Police would not be pursuing any further action against him.
"As far as the Society is concerned, this is the end of the matter. We would like to thank Mr. Sullivan for his work as President under the most difficult of circumstances and wish him well for the future."
The CPS released a statement which said: "Following an investigation by Thames Valley Police, we have decided that there is insufficient evidence to prosecute a 21-year-old man from Oxford who was arrested following a complaint of rape and a complaint of attempted rape made by two women.
"We will be writing to the complainants to explain our decision in more detail."
Ms Pine was not available for comment.
He acknowledged that the president, Ben Sullivan, “should have been considered innocent until proven guilty”.