Disciplinary proceedings at Royal Holloway reveal a tendency for ‘Kafka-esque’ secrecy: the ‘untrusted’ can never know who took the eventful decision in April 2018 to suspend Jeff Frank, and no clear reasoning has ever been offered. Although the extensive list of unjustified and somewhat incoherent charges fell one by one, unnecessarily lengthy disciplinary procedures and the threat of dismissal could still serve as an automatic punishment. These proceedings have gone on for over a year during which time Jeff’s teaching and research has been disrupted, at high personal cost to Jeff but also at high cost to the College and its students and staff. While the suspension itself was lifted after 7 months, Jeff remains under formal disciplinary action that is impeding his ability to perform his job.
In April 2019, an appeal panel finally decided that Jeff was guilty of a ‘minor offence’ only. How can a ‘minor offence’ justify seven months of suspension, and all the effort and resources used to punish Jeff? And surely someone should be answerable for such a momentous failure of judgement? It is perhaps not surprising that all those driving this process have insisted on anonymity. However, the first paragraph of the Disciplinary Policy requires ‘a transparent process’. This process has been everything but transparent.