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Cambridge don accused of sexually harassing 10 students readmitted to college

Mike Wright
Dr Peter Hutchinson apologised following in internal investigation in 2015

 

A Cambridge don who was accused of sexually harassing 10 students has been readmitted to his college as the university said the decision to remove him was wrong.

Dr Peter Hutchinson was barred from Trinity Hall and from contacting students in 2017 after a string of allegations were made against him.

However, the college has now said the decision was “incorrect” and that the retired modern and medieval languages don would be able to attend certain college events and exercise dining rights.

The decision comes after Dr Hutchinson quit teaching in 2015 after facing nearly a dozen complaints ten students, dating from 2014.

The students reported incidents of “inappropriate, sexual and sexist comments” Dr Hutchinson had allegedly made during seminars and social events.

According to the BBC, the original grievance included a complaint by a student who said he had asked her “does that turn you on?” during a discussion on a book about a dominatrix.

Dr Hutchinson, who retired in 2011 but continued to teach as a non-stipendiary fellow, apologised following an internal investigation for what he called his  "thoughtless, insensitive and offensive" behaviour.

He said: “I continue to deeply regret the comments I made, and the impact they had on the students concerned.”

Trinity Hall College, where Dr Hutchinson remains an emeritus fellow Credit: Alamy

In December 2017, the college then announced the don had agreed a permanent exclusion after breaching sanctions placed upon him following the initial investigation.

The alleged breach was said to have involved him attending a lecture were undergraduates were also present.

At the time the college released a statement saying Dr Hutchinson had “withdrawn permanently from any further involvement with college affairs” and would “not be present in college at any time in the future”.

Yesterday Trinity Hall said the statement it had released in 2017 “had not been agreed with Dr Hutchinson and was incorrect” and that upon his retirement he had automatically become an Emeritus Fellow of the college.

It added: “Confusion arose in 2017 following Dr Hutchinson’s attendance at a College lecture to which he had been invited. The College and Dr Hutchinson have now formalised and clarified the events which Dr Hutchinson may choose to attend, to avoid further confusion.

“In line with the rights and privileges afforded to Emeritus Fellows of the College, Dr Hutchinson will continue to attend certain College events and to exercise his dining rights, but will not attend events primarily aimed at students or alumni except by agreement with the college.”