Huddersfield University has been forced to apologise and pay compensation to one of its students after subjecting him to a prolonged disciplinary process for tweets critical of radical gender ideology.
The University launched a formal investigation into PhD student Jonathan Best, 50, after an anonymous complaint from another student.
The case comes after the Government announced a range of tough new measures to ensure that free speech is not restricted at universities.
The complainant accused Best of engaging in “repeated transphobic behaviour” and “discrimination”.
The complaint was dropped shortly after, but four new charges were then levelled at Best for publishing the original complaint and campaigning for his innocence.
He was then given a formal warning and accused of “sexual, homophobic, racial or other unlawful harassment” of another student, despite not knowing of the new charges or being able to make a formal defence.
Best successfully appealed the decision and went to the ombudsman – the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA).
The OIA found in his favour and ordered the University to apologise and pay £800 in compensation.
In its ruling, the OIA said it was “not satisfied” with the University’s apology to Mr Best over the “distress and inconvenience” caused.
Speaking to The Daily Telegraph after the case, Mr Best said the charges displayed the “chilling effect on free speech in action”.
He added: “In these free speech cases, the process is the punishment – getting through the process is grindingly difficult and stressful. It wears you down. It makes you wonder if speaking and writing honestly is worth it.”
Earlier this year, the Government announced that places of higher education will soon be subject to a new free speech condition in order to be registered in England and access public funding. If universities and colleges break this condition, the Office for Students (OfS) will have the power to impose sanctions upon them, including financial penalties.
The Department for Education says this will be the first time such groups “would have to take steps to ensure that lawful free speech is secured for their members and others, including visiting speakers”.
Last month, multiple academics and students voiced concerns over a cancel culture which they say is silencing gender-critical views.
They have used a new anonymous online forum, known as GC Academia Network, to post their experiences of the toxic effect radical gender ideology is having on academic freedom.