We write as academics deeply concerned by the suspension of Dr Rod Thornton, a lecturer in counter-terrorism in the school of politics and international relations at the University of Nottingham (Report, 4 May). We understand that Dr Thornton’s suspension is the result of a whistle-blowing investigative research paper that was presented at the annual British International Studies Association conference and subsequently published on its website. In his research, Dr Thornton carefully details what appear to be examples of serious misconduct from senior university management over the arrest of two university members (The “Nottingham Two”) under the Terrorism Act 2000 in May 2008.
The two men were never charged with a terrorism-related offence, and their arrests were perceived as being indicative of a growing tide of Islamophobia. Dr Thornton’s research paper provides apparent confirmation, notably through internal communications obtained via the Freedom of Information and Data Protection Acts, that university management and senior academics colluded to paint the two men in a negative light despite no evidence of wrongdoing. The claims he makes are very serious and should be subjected to a full and proper inquiry: they cannot be ignored.
We call for the immediate reinstatement of Dr Rod Thornton and call on the University of Nottingham to openly and thoroughly examine the claims made in his research. We also request that an independent inquiry be conducted into the university’s actions on this matter.