Law student cleared of social media ‘hate postings’

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Sep 11, 2017
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Robbie Travers denied expressing racist views on his Facebook page

An Edinburgh University student who was accused of putting “minority students at risk and in a state of panic” on social media has been cleared of misconduct. 

Robbie Travers, 21, a third-year law student, had faced possible expulsion if found guilty of breaching the university's code of student conduct. He was accused of disseminating hate speech and inciting others to violence. 

Speaking after a two-month investigation, which concluded on Friday, Travers told The Times: “It has been a deeply tiring few weeks, but I am relieved to have been cleared completely of all the baseless charges levelled against me. I have now been cleared of all wrongdoing.” 

He added: “I worry that someone with a lower public profile, resources and funds would struggle to defend against such a complaint.”

The row received considerable media coverage, and is the latest dispute between British students over allegedly offensive comments and the right to freedom of expression. 

Travers adamantly denied that he had expressed racist views or comments that would incite violence. He is a frequent blogger, regularly posting comments on politically sensitive issues on his Facebook page. 

The main complaint against him was brought by Esme Allman, a second-year history student and the former ethnic minority convenor at the university’s students’ association. 

At the end of last week a senior officer in the admissions department at the university wrote to Travers saying that the outcome of the investigation was to “dismiss the allegations of misconduct” because “the evidence presented did not support a finding that the code of student conduct had been breached”. 

The official added that the investigation had “not seen any evidence that Mr Travers targeted Ms Allman or any other individual on the basis of their race or another protected characteristic” as set out in the code. 

The finding said that there was “some evidence of Mr Travers actively disagreeing with others who have expressed racist or xenophobic comments in response to Mr Travers’ posts”. 

The investigator said: “I do not therefore believe that Mr Travers’ online activity jeopardises the safety of University of Edinburgh students.” 

In an official statement, the university said it “regrets that an internal student conduct matter has been played out in the public arena, as this risks being harmful to all the students involved as well as damaging the integrity of the investigation”. 

The university declined to comment officially on the outcome of the investigation. 

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