Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

University Pressured Me to Give Up Anti-Bypass Fight, Campaigner Says: News

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

University Pressured Me to Give Up Anti-Bypass Fight, Campaigner Says: News

Article excerpt

Lecturer claims he was told he had 'no future' at Aberdeen if he battled on, David Matthews reports.

A lecturer has alleged that a university threatened that there would be "no long-term future" for him at the institution unless he withdrew his opposition to the construction of a controversial local bypass.

William Walton claims in documents submitted to the European Court of Human Rights that pressure put on him by the University of Aberdeen compromised his right to freedom of expression and a fair trial.

Aberdeen has said that the allegations were "without foundation" and that Mr Walton - who was a senior lecturer in geography in the School of Geosciences - was offered a new position, which he turned down, after the alleged threat took place.

Mr Walton has been chairman of the anti-bypass group RoadSense since 2006, which has campaigned against the building of the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route. The group has used legal channels to fight the scheme right up to the Supreme Court, which dismissed its appeal in October 2012.

Now, through the European Court of Human Rights, Mr Walton and three other claimants are seeking damages from the UK government for a variety of reasons, citing flaws in a public inquiry into the bypass and the impact on nearby properties.

In one part of the claim - in which the university is named as a third party - Mr Walton alleges that Aberdeen made "unwarranted interventions in order to discourage or dissuade me from continuing with my judicial appeals".

In May 2012, before RoadSense's appeal to the Supreme Court, Mr Walton claims that a head of school at the institution verbally pressured him to withdraw the legal challenge.

"I was told by the Head of School that if I did not withdraw the appeal then I would have '... no long term (employment) future at the University'," the submission states. …

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