Cambridge college head resigns over handling of sexual misconduct claims

Cambridge college head resigns over handling of sexual misconduct claims
An independent inquiry recommended Trinity Hall take disciplinary action against Dr Jeremy Morris

The head of a Cambridge University college has resigned over allegations that he mishandled complaints of sexual misconduct raised by students.

An independent enquiry into the allegations over the handling of the complaints recommended disciplinary action against Jeremy Morris, the master of Trinity Hall.

The college issued a statement on their website on Tuesday, announcing that it accepted Dr Morris’s resignation, noting that he disputed the recommendation of the enquiry.

“The Master disputes this recommendation, noting, in particular, the enquiry’s recognition that a number of contributors had praised his personal support for those who have raised issues of sexual abuse in specific situations,” the statement said.

“However, he considers that it is in the best interests of the college for him to offer his resignation, given the difficulties of the last 18 months, to enable the search for a new Master to begin,” it added.

Dr Morris had stepped away from his duties in 2020 during an ongoing internal review. He was accused of mishandling multiple complaints of sexual assault against a male student.

An investigation by the news website Tortoise revealed three women students told academic staff in February 2018 they had been raped and sexually assaulted by a male student, which the accused denied. Two of the survivors made formal complaints, which were heard by a panel of dons appointed by acting senior tutor Dr William O’Reilly.

Dr Morris also faced backlash in 2019 after Cambridge don Peter Hutchinson, accused of sexually harassing 10 students, was readmitted to the college less than two years after being “permanently excluded” and banned from contacting students. Dr Hutchinson, however, resigned in November after over 1,300 students and staff staged protests against him.

The college commissioned an independent inquiry led by Gemma White QC into the handling of allegations. Her report, based on over 60 interviews, recommended the college consider initiating disciplinary action against Dr Morris.

In 2020, at least 500 students and staff had asked the college to “critically review” their handling of sexual misconduct complaints.

Ms White has also led an enquiry into the alleged bullying and harassment of Westminster lawmakers’ Parliamentary staff and others engaged in Parliamentary work on their behalf.