Claims of “false and defamatory statements” concerning the former vice-chancellor of the University of the West of England (UWE) caused The Bristol Blogger’s website to be taken down earlier today.
A notice from blogging platform WordPress said that the popular city blogger’s site had been “archived or suspended for a violation of our Terms of Service” this morning.
A spokesman from WordPress told radio journalist Martin Jones this afternoon that “we received a complaint that there were a number of false and defamatory statements on the blog. This was checked and we agreed with the complaint. The blog was was suspended to remove the material from view.
“The blog owner has been in touch, the blog is not now suspended and he has details of the statements which need removing. This has to be done today.
“He has been advised that if he disputes this and wishes the statements he made to be allowed on the blog then he must settle the issue outside of wordpress.com first.
“We do not censor blogs but where defamation has occurred we are obliged to act as stated in our Terms of Service.
“Apart from the specified statements we have no issue with any other parts of the blog right now.”
The Bristol Blogger’s site was running again early this afternoon, but he told Bristol24-7 the matter related to material he had published on Sir Howard Newby in 2007.
The former UWE vice-chancellor, now at the University of Liverpool, left his post in Bristol after 16 controversial months in the job.
The Guardian reported in 2007 that Sir Howard had talked of UWE’s potential to be a “distinctive new kind of university for the 21st century, achieving excellence in learning and teaching, knowledge transfer and the extension of educational opportunities to all who can benefit”.
He kicked off with a “blue skies thinking” exercise to review various aspects of the university and create the new strategic programme.
But while university officials said staff were consulted, academics felt decisions had been made ahead of any conclusions. The University and College Union at UWE is reported to have labelled his tenure “disruptive for students and staff, disastrous for staff morale and damaging to the reputation of the university”.
The use of management consultancy firms linked to both Sir Howard and his wife, assistant vice-chancellor Lady Sheila Newby, also caused concern.
The pages on The Bristol Blogger website related to Sir Howard Newby have now been removed, as has a separate WordPress website ‘sirhowardnewbywatch‘.
There are still, though, references to the Blogger’s article on the internet – including Bristol Indymedia and other blog sites, found via a Google search.