A senior Indian academic of Cambridge University on Wednesday accused sections of British and Indian media of “distorting” and “sensationalising” a minor incident that happened three years ago. Dr. Priyamvada Gopal, who teaches English and is Dean of Churchill College, was reacting to a report in the Daily Mail which was picked up by some Indian news agencies and newspapers claiming that she had alleged to have been “harassed” by drunk students.

It attributed to her a “complaint” in which she was purported to have said she “had to reject the advances of one inebriated student”.

“Several very drunk students and alumni after a rugby dinner, some of whom were running naked around college, and one of whom propositioned me,” the report quoted her saying.


In a statement, Dr. Gopal said the story “substantially distorts” what actually happened and “categorically” denied that she complained of harassment.

“I did not ‘complain' to the college about the incident; I reported it in an annual report as part of my normal duties. A drunk ‘former' student who did not know me made some inappropriate remarks when I came down to investigate noise late at night. I did not have to either ‘reject' or ‘fight off' advances.

The entire incident was far less sensational than has been reported,” the statement said adding: “There was categorically no element of ‘harassment' in the incident”.

Dr. Gopal said she was “disturbed” that information about student behaviour obtained under the Freedom of Information laws was being “misused” in order to deliberately discredit university students protesting against swingeing cuts to the higher education budget.

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