Ketland Reinstated at Oxford


Jeffrey Ketland, who had been dismissed from his position as a philosophy fellow and tutor at Oxford’s Pembroke College following accusations that he had harassed a BPhil student who committed suicide (previously), was successful in his appeal of that decision and has been reinstated, according to this article in The Sunday Times.

Ketland, 50, a philosophy lecturer at Pembroke College, said he was “scapegoated” by the university over the death of Charlotte Coursier, 25, and added that the case had affected his health and caused huge problems for his family. He had suffered severe trauma and an internet campaign of intimidation, he said. The philosopher now fears he will face a backlash from supporters of Coursier, who took her life in June last year.

Much of the rest of the article is currently behind a paywall.

UPDATE (8/3/14): In an email, Jeffrey Ketland writes: “The University of Oxford has reversed my ‘termination’, reported back in March 2014. I shall now be reinstated. This comes after an external appeal, upheld by a judge. A brief account of the saga is published in The Sunday Times. I’m disinclined to add much to that account since I’m mindful of any upset to others, despite the critical necessity for some of the correct facts to be reported. I do want to say thank you, for their kindness and help, to Catarina [Dutilh Novaes] and Heidi [Howkins Lockwood].”

UPDATE 2 (8/3/14): In case you cannot get past the paywall, the entire text of the article is reprinted below the fold. 

AN OXFORD University philosopher who was suspended after the suicide of a female student with whom he had an affair has won his job back. The university confirmed this weekend that Jeffrey Ketland’s appeal against his suspension in March had been upheld. Ketland, 50, a philosophy lecturer at Pembroke College, said he was “scapegoated” by the university over the death of Charlotte Coursier, 25, and added that the case had affected his health and caused huge problems for his family. He had suffered severe trauma and an internet campaign of intimidation, he said. The philosopher now fears he will face a backlash from supporters of Coursier, who took her life in June last year.

Ketland claims that evidence given at her inquest in February by Coursier’s boyfriend, Ben Fardell, was used to implicate him unfairly. Fardell said Ketland sent Coursier “crazy and rambling accusations” and that when the academic had met her some years earlier at Edinburgh University he acted unprofessionally “and made an already fragile and vulnerable girl 100 times worse”. Ketland said he and his wife were “very frightened by what happened at the inquest” and were advised to stay away from the hearing for their own safety. They left Oxford and headed to Edinburgh. Before the drive north he received anonymous messages saying “Jeffrey Ketland — murderer”.

In June Darren Salter, Oxfordshire’s senior coroner, wrote to Ketland that it was “regrettable” that the press had focused on witness statements by Fardell and one of Coursier’s friends alleging that Ketland had harassed her. Salter said it was “clear from the evidence that Miss Coursier had previous mental health problems and had suffered from depression, [including] suicide attempts by overdose. She also had suicidal thoughts in 2012, according to her GP.”

Ketland first met Coursier in 2008 when he was working at Edinburgh University and she was an undergraduate. They developed an intense, platonic relationship. In February 2009 she overdosed on paracetamol and he took her to A&E. The next month she sent him a birthday card saying: “Thank you for everything you’ve done for me, I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for you. You have been a wonderful friend.” In a written statement Ketland’s wife, Blanca Fuentes, said family life was disrupted by Coursier’s “uncountable number of suicide threats, virtually on a daily basis”. She added in a letter sent last week to the master of Pembroke College: “The memories I have from 2009 and 2010 have the quality of nightmares.” In autumn 2010 Ketland moved out of the family home and started an affair with Coursier. It ended after a few weeks when he called police, saying she had assaulted him.

In November 2011 he applied for a job at Oxford University; Coursier subsequently applied to study there. He said he was so concerned she was stalking him that he became ill and needed treatment for stress. In the last 11 months of her life Coursier went out with Fardell who told the inquest that the “relationship suffered numerous crises”. She fell pregnant and never got over her decision to abort the child, describing it as “murder”. On June 10 Fardell told her he was leaving her and she threatened to kill herself. She texted and phoned him repeatedly but by the time he rang her back at 3.21pm it was too late. Salter stated in the letter to Ketland: “The main factor in Miss Coursier’s death appeared to be her break-up with Mr Fardell.” He confirmed that police gave Ketland a harassment warning on May 22 but said there was no further contact between them and “ Miss Coursier believed the situation with [Ketland] had been remedied”. He also confirmed that Ketland tried to alert the police to his fears for her wellbeing.

The university confirmed that Ketland’s appeal had been upheld and said it had acted with care and in good faith throughout.

by Nicholas Hellen, The Sunday Times

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