Hounding of the Don Who Dared Speak out on Migrants
Byline: HARRY MOUNT
LEADING academics yesterday defended an eminent Oxford professor against a students' call for him to be sacked for his links to an immigration think-tank.
Oxford Student Action for Refugees has circulated a petition seeking the removal of Professor David Coleman, a leading expert in demographics, because of his connections with MigrationWatch.
The students believe that because MigrationWatch warns about the negative effects of present and future immigration, it is inherently racist.
But Professor Coleman condemned what he called a 'shameful attack on academic independence and freedom of speech'.
He questioned whether the students involved should be allowed to stay at the university themselves.
Among his defenders was Professor John Salt, director of the Migration Research Unit at University College London.
He said: 'David Coleman is probably the best all-round demographer in the country when it comes to linking demographic information to immigration statistics.' In 2005, Professor Salt concluded in work for the Home Office that there were around 500,000 illegal immigrants in Britain.
After shocked reactions to the size of his estimate, the then immigration minister, Des Browne, denied it was an official figure.
It later turned out to be an underestimate.
There was more support from Professor Norman Stone, once Margaret Thatcher's foreign policy adviser on Europe. He came
under a similar attack from students at Oxford, where he was Professor of Modern History from 1984 to 1995, after he was accused of sexism.
Professor Stone said: 'What a nuisance - it's an absurd overreaction. The poor darlings.
It just shows they've got nothing better to do. They're just striking attitudes.
They're a pest.'
current levels of immigration.
Professor Coleman co-founded MigrationWatch with Sir Andrew Green, a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, in 2001 and remains an honorary consultant.
The think-tank emphasises the contribution of refugees to the country but doubts whether Britain can successfully handle
The students claim the professor is bringing Oxford into disrepute by using his academic title to legitimise alleged anti-immigration views in the media.
They have petitioned Oxford's vice-chancellor, Dr John Hood, to 'consider the suitability of Coleman's continued tenure as a professor'. …