Chronology - Introduction

By analogy with the procedure in British law courts, I have attempted to extract information from the bureaucracy at Newcastle University by asking one question at a time ( you have to do it this way - any supplementary questions would allow them to evade your main question by answering the supplementary questions instead ). My first question required 5 years 5 months before it was addressed, and even then their response was a total and most amazing lie. My second question was first posed in September 1999, and still has received no reply (as of 2010).

Chronology - Inital Stages

  • My initial letter to Hancock complained about the fact that Newcastle University had used questions in a third year Mathematics paper which were identical to questions in a second year exam from the previous year, meaning that about 2/3 or so of the third-year exam could be written using second-year material (this is just the starting point for my complaint). After ignoring me for over five years, Newcastle University turned around and told me that these questions were 'not even remotely similar'.

  • Hancock's letter of 24. October 1997 contained the views of a friend of his - a Professor of Mathematics at Southampton University (identity unknown). The situation started to became very surreal as this Professor said my claims were wrong and agreed with Newcastle University's view that the questions were different. This was backed up with reasons, but because the questions are indeed identical, these reasons are quite simply wrong. This latter statement didn't go down well with Hancock, considering I was criticizing his friend, and this is a main reason why he will never give me any help (i.e. because he wants to protect his friend) - even if I prove beyond any shadow of a doubt that his friend is wrong (which I can do because Maths is an exact science). Hancock has used this opinion to treat me like a complete idiot.

    (Note : Has Hancock made any contradictory statements with repect to the 'expert remarks' by Professor Roy Meadows, whose statements wrongly sent women to prison for murdering their children? Let me know if you have heard anything)

In June 2000, the Labor Government announced that plans were in hand to abolish the Visitor and introduce a University Ombudsman.

Meeting of September 18th 1999

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

  1. 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).

  2. 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.

  3. 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).

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. Hancock tells me to go to the National Union of Students.

    I point out that the NUS is unable to deal with individual cases.

  8. 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.)

  9. 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

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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

  13. Hancock tells me I should go to the National Union of Students.

    see item 5

  14. 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.

  15. 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 !!!

  16. 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).

  17. 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.

Continuing

  • I had became so frustrated with Newcastle's attitude that I enclosed some money (eventually amounting to 200 pounds cash) to be used as expenses incurred in giving me an answer to my question. Instead of giving me an answer, they give the money away to charity ( allegedly - I have never seen any receipts ). Obviously they tried returning the money, but I just sent it back, given that they hadn't actually given me an answer to my question.

    Hancock replies by saying "it was difficult to see what else Newcastle could have done with the money" Well I just throw this in on the off-chance - perhaps they could have used the money as expenses incurred in giving me an answer to my question!!!!!

  • Hancock continues by pointing out how stupid I was. He said: "I have seen proof of several attempts by Newcastle University to return the money. I cannot understand why you have not grasped these facts".

    So not only has Hancock missed the point in a very, very big way, but he has thrown in an insult in for good measure. Whatever you might think about this aspect, it has been a real-opener for me. Previously I really did think it would expose Nrewcastle's unwillingness to answer my question in a big way. I never would have entertained any idea that it would have turned out as described.

  • I sent Hancock the full-worked solutions to the questions in point [One set of solutions; the other set]

    Hancock replied that he was unable to make any further decisions because I had sent in incomplete solutions !?!

  • I tried to stress the point further, pointing out that I do know what I am doing - I am a qualified mathematician.

    Hancock replied that I was ‘superior’. I take this to be a more ‘modern’ version of phrases like ‘uppity nigger’ - apparently because of his perception of my station in life, I can never ever be correct, no matter how obvious it is that I am right (what is known as status-determined justice).

  • I told Hancock that 1. Newcastle have consistently ignored my communications, for years 2. Newcastle have no complaints procedure

    Hancock replied that I should contact the Chancellor (sic) again (sic) and “see what he will do for me”. It is beyond my literary abilities to fully express what sheer pig-ignorance is contained in a statement like this. If you have any interest you could consult Accountability at Newcastle University. For overseas readers, remember the statement above IS INDEED from a Brish Member of Parliament!!

Conclusion

I did succeed in getting a statement from another Professor of Mathematics at Southampton University which sided with me, but that has made no difference - Hancock continues to agree with his friend (and therefore with the most amazing lie told by Newcastle University).

Conclusion

The most positive reaction that I ever received from Hancock was a statement that he "shared my frustration" (he most certainly never confronted the University, requesting that they answer my questions).

Conclusion

I sent Hancock a letter from a Professor of Mathematics at Southampton University, opposing the view of his friend (also of Southampton University - see above). In the letter 'my' Professor describes Newcastle's view that the questions are "not even remotely similar" as "absurd". Hancock completely ignored me