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Discussion on 12 May 1998: The Report of the Council on the structure of academic offices in the University, promotions procedures, and related matters

After taking legal advice, the Council have agreed exceptionally to authorize the publication of the following statement by Dr G. R. Evans in response to the remarks made at the Discussion of this Report on 12 May 1998 (Reporter, p. 658).


1. I was subjected at the Discussion of 12 May to a personal attack by members of the central bodies which appears to be without precedent in the University, and which goes against the presumed intention of Statute A, VIII, 8 that no Grace relating to an individual shall subject that individual to personal humiliation. I have in natural justice a right to reply to the allegations made against me. I also wish to protest at being the subject of a ballot on the independent review which Sir Brian Neill thought necessary for the sake of the appearance of fairness in the present exceptional circumstances.

2. I never made any 'demand'. I never made any reference to 'the immediate creation' of a Chair for myself. I said that a former British Academy Reader (1986-88) should by now be being considered for a Chair and that I saw no way in which I could have fair consideration in the existing politicized circumstances. I pointed out that an industrial tribunal might award a sum in the region of £75,000 in total in compensation for hurt feelings and lost back salary. The settlement between the University of Manchester and Dr Asif Qureshi in his Race Discrimination case bears out those figures. I intended to hand any sum awarded back to the University to fund others' promotions. All I have ever sought is the fair consideration for promotion which I have consistently alleged that circumstances in my Faculty have denied me. But, even if what Professor Needham said had been true, he would have been in the wrong in discussing in public the text of any inherently 'without prejudice' settlement paper. The University refused in writing on 7 August 1997 even to negotiate on my 'first settlement paper', which was almost entirely concerned with the reform of procedures. The University solicitor sought in the same letter to ban me from communicating with any University officer except through her, unless on 'routine' business (undefined). The wasting of what is now rather more than £125,000, when it could all have been settled in hours by simply talking to me, is a matter I should like the Board of Scrutiny to investigate.

3. I initiated no litigation during the Michaelmas Term, except to make a fresh originating application for victimization after the Sex Discrimination case was stalled on the preliminary point whether the application had been made out of time and to allege breach of contract. Of the behaviour towards me on the part of members of the central bodies justifying that application, the Regent House had an illustration at the Discussion of 12 May.

4. On the question whether an attempt was made to gag me and also to sack me, I quote two paragraphs from the Council's position paper at the outset of the settlement talks with Sir Brian Neill.

  7. The Council are unwilling to contemplate any settlement which allows Dr Evans the possibility of resuming her admitted campaign of using the University's statutory procedures in an unreasonable way, and in ways which were not contemplated when they were put in place, to support her specific position. The Council acknowledge that whilst Dr Evans continues to be a member of the Regent House she should enjoy the rights, privileges, and duties of that membership. They expect, however, that Dr Evans would respect the outcome of any reviews instigated as a result of any settlement; she should give a binding undertaking not again to use the University's statutory procedures in support of any measures or objectives which were, or could have been, considered in those independent reviews.

8. The Council have considered whether it would be appropriate for Dr Evans to continue as a University officer following the implementation of any agreed settlement. Some members take the view that Dr Evans has acted unreasonably and that apart from the stayed leave for judicial review her actions have been unsuccessful and her arguments rejected. They find it difficult to accept that Dr Evans will be able to accept the democratic responsibilities which membership of the Regent House and of the Council entail.

I resisted all attempts to gag me in the light of the recommendations of the Second Report of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, now chaired by Sir Brian Neill's brother. I said at the outset that I could not negotiate under duress, and that I would not undertake not to use the University's statutory procedures because that might require me to act against conscience if I believed challenge to be necessary.

I do not think the Council should be proud of these stipulations. That my arguments about reform have not been rejected is plain from a reading of the Reporter since November 1994.

5. Dr Thompson misleads the Regent House. I have not 'moved from the general to the particular' and I have not abused my position on the Council to 'suggest' a 'satisfactory personal settlement' for myself. That is defamatory. From the outset I have fought this battle for reform of procedures and employment practices for the benefit of the whole community. The Reporter tells the story in Discussions since November 1994. I have at no point sought to gain advantage for myself as a candidate. The record shows that I have consistently asked since the beginning of the litigation for an independent review of others' cases too, and it was I who insisted that should remain in the settlement terms. I think it is widely recognized that my own chances of promotion have been materially diminished by the campaign. That, too, was plain at the Discussion of 12 May. It was clear to Sir Brian Neill that I could not be seen to have fair consideration in the climate of this very public dispute. The proposal for an independent panel is about the perception of fairness.

6. Dr Thompson sought to give the impression that it is I who have kept this matter on the Council's agenda. I do not write the agenda. The general issues have come back to the Council repeatedly because they are of importance to the University as a whole. I did not defer or prolong the settlement discussions. The Council did that.

7. I do not think any employees of this University should be subjected to pejorative public statements about the quality of their work without evidence being provided to the Regent House. Professor Bowring would like to see the files in my case. Dr Whitehead and others have cast defamatory aspersions on my scholarly achievement. I append, for the sake of brevity, a select list of professional achievements and a catalogue of my academic books. My full curriculum vitae and list of publications may be consulted in the Old Schools.

8. Professor Mellor accuses me of 'impropriety'. That is defamatory. I have asked him in a letter to explain more clearly what he deems me to have done by way of exercising 'improper pressure', but I have not so far had a reply. I have told the Chairman of the Board of Scrutiny that I should welcome an inquiry into the handling of this dispute by the central bodies, that I will willingly appear before it, and that he may have disclosed to him every paper in my possession. I have also sent him a copy of the draft typescript of the book I am writing. I have nothing whatsoever to hide. I have not found the University for its part willing to make full disclosure at any point in the litigation. I hope it will now do so to the Board of Scrutiny.

9. I have asked that the rulings on my invocations of Statute K, 5 should be published in the Reporter. Members of the Regent House will then be able to see what the issues were and form their own view on the reasons given for not accepting my representations.

10. I should like my accusers to particularize any attack I am supposed to have made on an individual, as distinct from seeking to call officers to account for decisions made in their official capacity. I should like my accusers to particularize any occasion on which I have made any claim about my own case at a Council meeting, or mentioned it in a Discussion except at the stage when malicious gossip was being spread in the University and I spoke in my own defence.

11. My fellow-members of the Council required me to leave while the attack made on me at the Discussion of 12 May, including their own speeches, was considered at the Council meeting of 25 May.

12. In sum, for it would be tedious to go point by point through the inaccurate descriptions of events in my attackers' speeches, a member of the Regent House who has been trying to achieve reform of promotions practices in the University and to be allowed fair consideration of her own case for promotion has been put in the stocks and pelted with the rotten eggs of hatred and resentment. That is to the enduring shame of this great University. I think the caution of those who have feared to put their heads over the parapet has been justified.

Abbreviated curriculum vitae and list of publications for Dr G. R. Evans

M.A., Ph.D., Litt.D. (Cambridge, 1983), D.Litt. (Oxford, 1983), Dip.Ed., F.R.Hist.S., F.R.S.A.

British Academy Research Reader in Theology, 1986-88.

Invited lectures, given abroad or forthcoming, include: Europe: France (Strasbourg), Spain, Austria (Salzburg), Italy (Rome, Pavia, Florence), Estonia, Germany (Berlin), Eire, Sweden. North America: including Princeton, Dallas, Oberlin, Sewanee, University of Madison, Nashota College, Wisconsin, Villanova, Pennsylvania, Catholic University of America, Washington, Mount Angel, Portland, Oregon, and, in Canada, Ottawa, Toronto. Australia: Melbourne.

Invitations deferred or declined include: Catholic University of Nijmegen, Netherlands, University of California, Vassar College, Notre Dame, Visiting Fellowship at the General Theological Seminary, New York.

Consulting Editor to Dictionary of Biblical Interpretation in English literature, ed. D. L. Jeffrey (Eerdmans, 1992); Encyclopaedia of Medieval, Renaissance and Reformation Christian Thought; Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Medieval, Renaissance and Reformation Christian Thought; projected Journal of the History of Biblical Interpretation. Member of the Committee for the Study of Mediaeval Languages and Literature (editorial board of Medium Aevum) from October 1996.

Memberships of learned and other societies by election: Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Fellow of the Royal Historical Society; former Committee Member, Association Internationale des Études Patristiques; Member, Société internationale pour l'étude de la philosophie médiévale; Member, The Nikaean Club (ecumenical liaison on behalf of the Archbishop of Canterbury); Member, Ecclesiastical Law Society; Member, Ecclesiastical History Society; Past Member, The London Society for the Study of Religion, Founding member, Society for Ecumenical Studies.

Consultancies: Member, The British Academy Committee for the Auctores Britannici Medii Aevi; Past Member, The British Academy's study group of 1980 on computer production; Member, The Faith and Order Advisory Group of the Church of England General Synod (1986-96) Consultant to and Editor for the Archbishops' Group on the Episcopate, whose Report Episcopal Ministry was published in November 1990; Member of English Anglican - Roman Catholic Committee, 1996- ; Church of England official observer at the World Methodist Council Oxford Institute of Methodist Studies, 1986, and invited to attend in the same capacity in 1992; Consultant to Church Union theological committee; Consultant to 'Disciples of Christ in Community' project, University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee. Consultant to University of Pennsylvania Museum on exhibition, 1995; Consultant to Conference of Anglican-Old Catholic Theologians, September 1993.

Public service work

I have served for more than a decade and a half on, or as a consultant to, theological and ecumenical committees. I continue to foster a serious attempt to establish ecumenical theology as an academic discipline through a series of initiatives.

On issues of academic freedom and academic standards, I have published a series of articles in the Times Higher Education Supplement and the Oxford Magazine: I gave oral evidence to the Nolan Committee in January 1996 and to the Dearing Committee in 1997, on behalf of the Council for Academic Freedom and Academic Standards, for which I serve as Public Policy Secretary and do a good deal of case-work.


  The Works of Anselm of Canterbury (in translation), Oxford University Press, World's Classics, edited with Brian Davies, due July 1998.
Discipline and Justice in the Church of England (Gracewing, 1998) (proof stage).
Getting it wrong: the mediaeval epistemology of evil (Brill, Leiden, in production).
Calling Academia to Account (Open University Press, in production, forthcoming, 1998).
The Reception of the Faith SPCK (1997), 250pp.
Method in Ecumenical Theology, Cambridge University Press (1996), 233pp.
Filozofia i Teologia w, Sredniowieczu (Krakow, 1996), 201pp.
Tra Fede e Regione, Edizioni Culturali Internationali (Genova, 1996) 165pp.
Anselm, Aosta, Bec and Canterbury, ed. (with David Luscombe), Sheffield Academic Press (1996), 394pp.
Communion et réunion: Mélanges J. M. R. Tillard, ed. G. R. Evans and M. Gourgues, Bibliotheca Ephemeridum Theologicarum Lovaniensium, CXXI (Peeters, 1995), 431pp.
Encounters for Unity, ed. with Diane C. Kessler and Lorelei Fuchs, The Canterbury Press (1995), 234pp.
The Church and the churches: Toward an Ecumenical Ecclesiology, Cambridge University Press (1994), 329pp.
Philosophie und Theologie im Mittelalter, Kohlhammer (1994), in German).
Philosophy and Theology II: The Middle Ages, Routledge (1993), 139pp.
Problems of Authority in the Reformation Debates, Cambridge University Press (1992), 328pp.
The Anglican Tradition: a Handbook of Anglican Sources (ed. with J. Robert Wright), SPCK (1991), 620pp.
Authority in the Church: a challenge for Anglicans, Canterbury Press (1990), 147pp.
Anselm, Chapman (1989), 108pp.
Christian Authority: Essays in Honour of Henry Chadwick, Oxford University Press (1988), 353pp.
Atlas of the Christian Church (ed. with Henry Chadwick) (Equinox and Macmillan, 1988), translated into Dutch, French, Japanese, German, and other languages.
Bernard of Clairvaux: Spiritual Writings (tr.), Classics of Western Spirituality (St. Paul Publications/SPCK, 1987), 296pp.
The Thought of Gregory the Great, Cambridge University Press (1986) (reprinted and now in paperback), 164pp.
The Works of Gilbert Crispin, ed. with Anna Abulafia, British Academy Mediaeval Texts Series (1986).
The Logic and Language of the Bible: The Road to Reformation, Cambridge University Press (1985), 192pp.
The Anselm Concordance (Kraus, 1984) (4 vols.), 1923pp.
The Logic and Language of the Bible: The Earlier Middle Ages, Cambridge University Press (1984) (reprinted, now in paperback), 199pp.
The Mind of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, Oxford University Press (1983) (reprinted), 239pp.
Alan of Lille, Cambridge University Press (1983), 249pp.
Augustine on Evil, Cambridge University Press (1983) (reprinted, now in paperback and translated into Italian and Portuguese), 198pp.
Alan of Lille: The Art of Preaching, Cistercian Publications (1981), 169pp.
Anselm and a New Generation, Oxford University Press (1980), 212pp.
Old Arts and New Theology, Oxford University Press (1980), 232pp.
Anselm and Talking about God, Oxford University Press (1978), 202pp.
More than a hundred and forty articles in refereed journals and contributions to books and encyclopaedias.

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Cambridge University Reporter, 3 June 1998
Copyright © 1998 The Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Cambridge.