A mother-of-two law student who was investigated by university chiefs after saying ‘women have vaginas’ has today been cleared of misconduct.
Mature student Lisa Keogh, 29, was hauled before a disciplinary panel at the University of Abertay in Dundee after her comments during a seminar on transgender issues were reported to tutors by her classmates.
But after a two month probe, which took place as the mature student underwent her final year exams, the university’s disciplinary board has now decided not to uphold the misconduct charge against her.
Today Ms Keogh hit out at the university for subjecting her to what she described as a ‘cruel modern day witch hunt’ due to her ‘gender critical views’.
The university deny Ms Keogh was put through the disciplinary procedure because of her ‘personal opinions’.
In a comment, sent to MailOnline, a ‘victorious’ Ms Keogh said: ‘As overjoyed as I am about this decision, I am saddened that I went through this at such a critical time in my university career.
‘The very end of my period at Abertay is now tarnished with these bad memories.
Lisa Keogh, 29, was hauled before a disciplinary panel at the University of Abertay in Dundee after she made the comments during a seminar on transgender issues
‘I know the university has a duty to investigate all complaints, but to draw this process out for two months while I was taking my final exams was needlessly cruel.
‘I always knew the complaints made against me were groundless and now the Student Disciplinary Board has confirmed that.
‘I was targeted because of my gender critical views – it was a modern day witch hunt.’
The row erupted after Ms Keogh made comments during a discussion on transgender issues in an online seminar.
She said during the seminar that women were born with female genitals and the difference in physical strength between men and women ‘was a fact’.
Ms Keogh was reported to academic chiefs by classmates who launched a formal probe for alleged ‘offensive’ and ‘discriminatory’ comments.
On Monday the university’s disciplinary board met to rule on the case of Ms Keogh, who was formally charged with ‘making inappropriate comments’ which ‘could be construed as discriminatory’.
The charge also claimed Ms Keogh had ‘behaved in a disrespectful manner’, despite being ‘reminded about the university’s policy on conduct.’
However the board said that, after reviewing the recordings made available from the lesson, it had found ‘no evidence of discrimination’.
It also found that the student had ‘not intentionally shouted in class’.
‘As a result, the board found there was insufficient evidence to support the allegations made against you on your behaviour in class and, therefore, decided to not uphold the charge of misconduct.’
Ms Keogh, who has since finished her course and is awaiting her exams results, said she hopes the university can now ‘learn from the experience’.
And she says she hopes other students will ‘not be put through a similar ordeal for voicing their opinions’.
Ms Keogh, who has since finished her course at Abertary University and is awaiting her exams results, said she hopes the university can now ‘learn from the experience’
She said: ‘While I may no longer be a student at the University, it is still vital to me that others have the opportunity to take part in lively open debates without worrying about being punished afterwards.
‘If Abertay just carries on as before, this journey will have been for no good reason.’
Speaking about the judgment, MP Joanna Cherry QC, who represents Edinburgh South West, said: ‘I’m pleased at this outcome.
‘But Lisa should never have been put through this ordeal in the first place and the University should review its free speech and equality policies to make sure that future students are not subject to the stress of spurious complaints nor discriminated against, harassed or victimised for their beliefs.’
MP Joanna Cherry QC said she was ‘pleased at this outcome’
Toby Young, General Secretary of the Free Speech Union, a campaign group which supported Ms Keogh throughout the process, said: ‘I’m delighted that the complaints against Lisa have been dismissed, but the University should not have taken two months to reach this conclusion.
‘It should have been obvious that the complaints against her were due to her gender critical views, not the manner in which she expressed them.
‘In a seminar on gender, feminism and the law there should be room for a range of views, from militant trans activism to traditional feminism.
‘Lisa deserves a huge amount of credit for standing up for herself.
‘The path of least resistance would have been to apologise and renounce her heretical belief, but instead she fought her corner.
‘Thanks to her courage, there is now space for a broader range of views at Abertay – it is no longer taboo to defend sex-based women’s rights.’
A university spokesperson said: ‘Under normal circumstances the University does not comment on student disciplinary cases, however as the student involved in this case has chosen to comment publicly we feel it is necessary for us to do so on this occasion.
Toby Young, General Secretary of the Free Speech Union, a campaign group which supported Ms Keogh throughout the process, said: ‘I’m delighted that the complaints against Lisa have been dismissed, but the University should not have taken two months to reach this conclusion.’
‘As we have previously stated, the University is legally obliged to investigate all complaints.
‘This does not mean every element of a complaint about a student becomes the subject of a disciplinary case.
‘Contrary to misleading statements by some commentators who view this as a case about gender identity, Lisa Keogh was not subject to disciplinary action for expressing so-called ‘unacceptable opinions’ about gender identity, or any other topic.
‘Ms Keogh met with a student disciplinary board on Monday to consider a single element of an initially complex complaint, which fell within the scope of the Code of Student Discipline.
‘This concerned a complaint about the behaviour of Ms Keogh in class.
‘The disciplinary panel did not uphold the complaint against Ms Keogh.
‘As previously stated, our Code of Student Discipline does not constrain lawful free speech, but does cover student behaviour.
‘The University is committed to upholding freedom of speech on campus and we will continue to actively encourage open and challenging debate at Abertay.’