Serpent's Egg

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Author drops UCL from £1m will over Sir Tim Hunt’s treatment

Former student union president Jeremy Hornsby says University College London’s treatment of Sir Tim Hunt, the Nobel-prize winning scientist was the ‘last straw’

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Jeremy Hornsby who has cut UCL out of his will Photo: Paul Grover/The Telegraph

A former president of University College London’s student union has written the institution out of his will in protest at its treatment of Sir Tim Hunt.

Sir Tim, a Nobel prize-winning scientist, was forced to resign as an honorary professor at UCL in a row over sexist comments he made in a speech.


Jeremy Hornsby, 79, an author and journalist, has now cut his alma mater out of his £1 million legacy. Mr Hornsby had planned to leave each of the two establishments that educated him – Winchester College and UCL – a tenth of his estate as a sign of his gratitude. He will now write UCL out of his will leaving it about £100,000 worse off.

Mr Hornsby wrote to Prof Michael Arthur, UCL’s provost, warning him of his intention to cut off UCL. His threat became a reality after the provost failed to even acknowledge his letter.

In his letter, Mr Hornsby explained that his exasperation with UCL over its seemingly soft stance on Islamist extremists, including the allegation that the so-called “underwear bomber” Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had become radicalised there during his studies, had been compounded by the Tim Hunt debacle.

Mr Hornsby wrote: “I have always been a loyal apologist and enthusiast for UCL, where I was president of the students’ union 1958-59, the year we moved to the old Seaman’s Hospital on Gordon Street. I have managed to ignore the various decisions over the years which appear to have enabled the radicalisation of Muslim students at UCL, but the case of Sir Tim Hunt is the last straw.

“Suffice to say that if I do not read that Prof Hunt has been reinstated within the next week, or, should he decline to return, that an apology has been issued to him, I shall sadly feel I must alter my will to remove the benefaction to UCL.”

Sir Tim, a biochemist who was awarded the Nobel prize in 2001, caused a storm of protest after reports of his speech in South Korea were tweeted. Sir Tim reportedly said: “Let me tell you about my trouble with girls. Three things happen when they are in the lab: you fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticise them they cry.”

Sir Tim said the comments were a joke. A recording released yesterday shows his audience laughing after he calls himself a “monster”.

Mr Hornsby, who graduated from UCL in 1959 after studying philosophy, said: “I wrote my will many many years ago and there was no question UCL would get ten per cent. But I just feel very strongly about the treatment of Sir Tim and have decided to change it.

“When I wrote to the provost I was astonished not even to receive an acknowledgement.”

UCL issued a statement last week saying it was right not to reinstate Sir Tim as honorary professor of the faculty of life sciences.

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This entry was posted on July 19, 2015 by and tagged , , , , , .

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