It became obvious during this meeting that Hancock wasn't listening to what I was saying - the most obvious manifestation of this being the way he kept asking about things that I had already told him
When I started off by telling Hancock that matters had been delayed because I found it hard to fully concentrate on my case because it 'gets me down' so much, he immediately replied: "this is rubbish, isn't it".
My meeting with Hancock was on a Saturday morning and the outcome was such that I entered a full-scale depression from which I was only fully emerging on Tuesday evening. This is not a state of mind that I can gladly endure too often, and I can't do too much to prevent this state of mind other than delaying this 'unpleasant task' of dealing with my complaint (as implied above).
- I showed him my record of achievement immediately before entering University - namely, a mark of 98% in Mathematics on an OND Technology course at Riversdale College, Liverpool.
This was greeted with contempt by Hancock.
- I had complained about final year questions at Newcastle University being similar to second year questions whilst Newcastle University had responded to my accusations by telling me that these questions were "not even remotely similar" (although this was about 5 and a half years after I had made the original accusation). Hancock told me about his friend, a Professor of Mathematics at Southampton University, who had informed me that my complaint was unjustified and wrong - the said questions were totally different. This information had previously been imparted to me via a letter from Hancock (24. Oct 1997), although the informant at that time was described as being a senior lecturer at Southampton.
Far from being wrong, I was actually right and this Professor was wrong. Events had moved on since Hancock's original letter (of 24. Oct 1997), and I now had another letter from Newcastle University in which they use typical bureaucratic style to both contradict their original letter (the one maintaining that the questions were 'not even remotely similar') while still maintaining that the questions are not identical, along with accompanying claptrap. Hancock's lettter is not compatible with this second letter.
(Note : I was later to receive a letter from another Professor of Mathematics at Southampton which contradicts Hancock's letter totally).
- I showed Newcastle's 'second' letter to Hancock -
but he just greeted it patronizingly, as though it was a definitive document - there was nothing else to be said. The concept that it contradicted his own letter did not seem to occur to him.
When I pointed out that Newcastle's letter contained information contradictory to his own letter of 24. Oct 1997,
he immmediately stated that it didn't, without looking at his own letter, which I was holding in my hand. His own letter was only applicable to Newcastle's 'first' letter, it is not compatible with Newcastle's 'second' letter.
There are some people who might view with suspicion the fact that it took me 5 and a half years and before I could get Newcastle University to respond directly to my complaint.
Hancock starts asking me why I have come here, and what it is I want.
Why I have come is obvious - Newcastle have kept on ignoring me and I need help. It took me 5 years and 5 months to get an answer to my first letter, and this answer was totally unsatisfactory.
I am now on to my second complaint, which asks why Newcastle went to such great pains to reduce the number of students on this particular unit that I am complaining about.
(Since than all I have had is a 'reply' from Newcastle refusing to answer this question while simultaneously claiming that they have taken great efforts to answer 'various questions' of mine.
Strangely (and you might find this hard to believe) all my attempts at getting a them to state just two of my 'various questions' that they have answered has proved fruitless.
Hancock tells me to go to the National Union of Students.
I point out that the NUS is unable to deal with individual cases.
- Hancock asked me what qualifications I had achieved before entering University.
I had already told him this, see item 1.
(I suppose I could have told him that I took my O-Levels at 15 years old - one year ahead of normal.)
(A bit of extra information to add, after the event, is that in 2000 I was awarded a B.A. in German from London University. This was obviously via part-time study, and it was like a hobby for me - I just used to read up during my hours of leisure from Mathematics. Despite such a casual, semi-prepared attitude, I still never achieved exam results as low as that which I achieved on the Newcastle Mathematics unit that I am complaining about - the unit that I spend an enormous amount of time on, more than twice the amount of time that I spent on any other unit.)
When I showed him a letter from Tyne Bridge Labor MP, Clelland, which stated satisfaction with Newcastle University's "appeal" structures, Hancock said : " Here is someone else telling you that everything is in order at Newcastle ".
Unfortunately for Clelland's view, the Lord Chancellor, who is the Visitor at Newcastle University ( the Visitor is at the peak of the "appeal" structure ) announced that he was actually unable to do this job properly. And the Liberal education spokesman, Phil Willis, used this announcement to call for the abolition of this "mediaeval" post in all British Universities. See here
- When Hancock learnt that I was a mature student, he expressed astonishment that : "You should have reached your age without making use of your degree".
In reality, I have worked as a Supply Teacher in South Wales, as an Open University Summer School tutor on a couple of occasions, as a permanent OU tutor since 1993, and as an examiner with the Open University since 1995, as degree tutor with the National Extension College, etc. etc.
- I had to finance myself for a large part of my studies which has left me considerably in debt, a scenario which has been greatly aggravated by the behavior of Newcastle University.
When I mentioned to Hancock that I was over 10,000 pounds in debt, he adopted an attitude which was totally inconsistent with his publicly stated opposition to the reduction and abolition of maintenance grants for students and imposition of tuition fees.
And when I say 10,000, that is over and above what I have had to liquidate to make ends meet. As a result of County Court judgements, I will never ever be able get a mortgage, etc..
I don't know whether it is a help or hindrance here to point out that I have another grievance against the government of the Isle of Mann. I had originally, in my younger years, invested my savings ( from my earnings) in Isle of Mann platinum coinage, which was even given publicity on Granada TV as a fairly safe investment. When I had to cash these in to pay my student fees etc, I was astonished to only get back a sum not much greater than the original investment. Whilst the cost of living had gone up over four times during the period of investment, I received a return of about 1% interest per annum. I have been led to believe by coin dealers that this "investment" was actually something of a con right from the beginning. My enquiries to the Isle of Mann government have been met with evasions.
- I mention the antediluvian "appeal" structure at newcastle University. The only internal "appeal" structure within Newcastle University is to write to the Dean of the Faculty, Your "appeal" is then dealt with by the Dean without you being present. While I was there, the Dean was a Professor of Mathematics and colleague of the person I was complaining about.
Hancock says 'that's the best way to do it'.
Contrary to Hancock's point of view, there are a lot of people who think that in situations like this, the person carrying out the "appeal" will automatically side with his colleague, making the whole thing a preconceived farce.
I note that it is not usual for judgements in a tribunal or court case etc. to be made by someone who is a colleague of someone involved in the case
Hancock says that this is quite usual - appeal judges in law cases are colleagues of the judges who sit in the original court cases.
Fact : In law cases in England and Wales, judgements are not actually made by the judge, they are made by a jury. None of the jury are allowed to be acquainted with anyone concerned with the case.
It is worth noting that concerns are being raised regarding about the validity of the Lockerbie case, where there was no jury (under Scottish law). Despite evidence being put forward suggesting that the original decision was wrong, the appeals judges have refused a re-trial, amongst suspicions that this had more to do with not wanting to go against their colleagues, the original judges, than with a proper appraisal of the evidence put before them.
Hancock's statement has really wound me up the more I keep thinking about it - how can anyone in the 21st. Century possess such mediaeval views ? A hell of a lot of effort has been put in by people in the past, in order to gain democratic rights -including people giving their lives. The fundamental democratic principles on which hearings are conducted are
1. The judge, jury or decision makers are not related to, or close colleagues or acquaintances of anyone involved in the hearing.
2. The hearing is not held in secret
3. Cross-questioning is allowed
I describe a hearing where none of these principles apply, and Hancock turns around and tells me that that is the "best way to do it" !!!! How exactly can you argue with someone who "thinks" like that !!!!!
(Note : Has Hancock made any contradictory statements with repect to any of the following?
The Deepcut Barracks affair where the problems were 'investigated' internally, not by the Police
Harold Shipman, where self-regulation alllowed Shipman to murder hundreds of people before he was stopped.
Parking fines, where any appeal is heard by the very same body that issued the parking ticket in the first place.
animal rights concerning greyhounds particularly (animal rights is one of the issues he claims a belief in). Annette Crosbie recently said:" Can I start by saying that the issue is not whether greyhound racing should be banned but why successive Governments, over 75 years, have turned a blind eye to the way this self-regulating gambling industry operates. This may be because self-regulation has resulted - as it usually does - in an industry where there is no transparency, no accountability and a code of - it not secrecy - certainly cover-up. "
Let me know if you have heard anything
- Hancock tells me I should go to the National Union of Students.
see item 5
- When I tried to bring up the issue of Human Rights, I was cut off with contempt, as though I was an idiot :
"This has nothing to do with Human Rights".
Human Rights is relevant in two ways : -
The planned introduction of the Human Rights Bill into Britain is suspected of making the post of University Visitor unlawful (see item 7).
A former Maths student at Bristol University, Francis Foecke, was at the time taking a grievance before the European Court of Human Rights, claiming that procedures in British Universities deny students a fair hearing.
- I was treated to a long discourse about a current prisoner, who everyone thought was actually innocent
So we just kept to relevant topics, then !!!
- Hancock said : "What you are really saying to say is that you have been somehow been treated differently from everyone else".
As I had already made clear to Hancock, there were two major ways in which I was "different" to the other students.
I entered directly on to the second-year at Newcastle, and had difficulties adjusting during this year, having moved to the other side of the country with no money etc.. So I was at a bit of a disadvantage when they inserted first-year material on to the final year paper (which I couldn't do), and when they inserted second-year material ( which I was a bit shaky on ).
I was paying for myself entirely, for everything, while everyone else presumably had full maintenance grants (and obviously did not have to pay tuition fees) (see item 9).
- He told me that I should gather all my documents and bin them
Which I most certainly won't be doing
There are several other unpleasant aspects of that meeting I could mention
Hancock shouting at me as though for all the world I was mentally deficient.
Hancock's use of the word "fucking".
the use of the phrase "this is rubbish" within the first 30 seconds of our meeting.
the continual interruption while I was speaking. I did ask him, in what I thought was a nice way, to stop interrupting me, something that is even less pleasant given that I have developed a slight stutter over recent years.