Australia’s High Commissioner to the UK has responded to concerns from British parliamentarians over the suspension of an anti-China student activist.
Australia’s High Commissioner to the UK has responded to concerns from British parliamentarians over the suspension of an anti-China student activist.

Shockwaves from activist’s suspension hit UK

The ramifications of the controversial saga between the University of Queensland and suspended human rights activist Drew Pavlou "greatly saddens" Australia's High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, according to a letter he penned to British parliamentarians.

Responding to "grave concerns" aired by UK parliamentarians Baroness Natalie Bennett and conservative MP Andrew Rosindell over the suspension of the student, High Commissioner George Brandis outlined the Australian Government's commitment to freedom of speech and academic freedom.

They had originally fired warning shots over the handling of the saga, saying the move "typifies the danger that China poses to the world at large".

UQ has strongly rejected that the student disciplinary matters were a free-speech issue and "unsubstantiated accusations about any political motivations".

Mr Brandis wrote in the letter the University of Queensland's Chancellor asserted that neither of the findings of misconduct upheld by the Disciplinary Committee concerned Mr Pavlou's personal or political views about China or Hong Kong.

"However, I gather from media reports that Mr Pavlou does not accept this assertion," Mr Brandis wrote in the letter.

"It greatly saddens me that one of Australia's greatest universities - of which I am myself both an alumnus and a former member of the academic staff - should have attracted unfavourable notice.

"I hope that the matter of Mr Pavlou is ultimately resolved in a way that both honours the University of Queensland's fine academic traditions and protects those essential values."

Mr Pavlou this week was suspended for semester two after his two-year suspension was reduced on appeal, with the Senate Disciplinary Appeals Committee upholding two out of 11 allegations of misconduct.

After Mr Pavlou was suspended Mr Varghese said neither of the guilty findings of serious misconduct concerned the student's personal or political views about China or Hong Kong.

"The university has consistently said that no student should be penalised for the lawful expression of personal views," he said.

"This should finally put to rest the false allegations that this process has been an attack on freedom of expression."

Originally published as Shockwaves from activist's suspension hit UK


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