Christ’s College apologises for mistakes in anti-Semitism investigation

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The Master of Christ’s College has apologised for causing “dismay and hurt” to Jewish students, following the college’s failure to fully investigate into an anti-Semitic attack.

The incident occurred on October 28 last year, when two Jewish students accidentally walked into a party hosted by Christ College’s Marguerites and Hippolytans Societies at the graduate union.

The two students were then pulled out of the building by “about seven large, intimidating males”, according to one of the victims, and subjected to anti-Semitic slurs.

Christ’s did launch a subsequent investigation into the matter, but after watching CCTV footage of the attack, only charged the students for “swearing and physical aggression”. No charge of anti-Semitism was pressed against them, on the basis that there was no audio recording to prove race had been a motivation.

However, The Telegraph published an article in November of the same year, in which it reported that the Jewish students were accusing Cambridge of covering up the attack. The article quoted Christ’s Master, Professor Jane Stapleton, as saying, “I reject categorically that Christ’s has engaged in a cover-up on this matter.”

Pressure from the article forced the college to review the incident again, with an external investigation being headed by former Court of Appeal judge Dame Janet Smith. “Significant failings” were found in the college’s initial response to the situation.

The Telegraph reported that the college had failed to interview the victims, and that college rules prevented Christ’s from collectively fining the sporting societies as punishment.

In a statement issued on Thursday, Christ’s said that “having considered all the available material, including audio-less video footage and the reporting students’ accounts which corroborated each other, concluded that there probably was substance to their complaint”.

It added, "In the light of this and the fact that the College has concluded that there probably was substance to the student’s complaint, it has decided that, unless those responsible admit the abuse, the ban on the societies holding social events out of College will remain in place until October 2019.”

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