Student to sue over `e-mail cheat' claims

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The Independent Online
A STUDENT who was one of 117 undergraduates accused of cheating by Edinburgh University is to sue for defamation.

Henrietta Roe, 20, will challenge findings that she and fellow students on a first-year computer science course used electronic mail to copy each other's examination coursework. The 117 have set up a website to challenge the allegations. Its authors argue that the university courses guide encouraged students to ask each other for help with coursework.

The guide for Computer Science First Year Studies says on page 6: "You can obtain help and advice regarding your practical work from your tutor, from the demonstrators in the lab and workroom and indeed from your colleagues." The university pointed out that the next sentence, which is not quoted, warns against "simple plagiarism".

Jeremy Roe, Henrietta's father, said yesterday that she had not cheated and that the students had helped each other because they were critical of teaching standards. Mr Roe, a business consultant, said: "The issue is one of integrity. My daughter has been accused of being a cheat. She is not and we are willing to prove that. Proceedings will be instituted." Earlier this month, the university said the students - more than half the first-year class - had been marked down and some might face disciplinary action after special software detected "a degree of collaboration which went beyond what is acceptable in exercises intended to be completed individually".

The author of the e-mail crib sheet which is believed to have been used by the students warned readers: "Don't copy it exactly - only use it as a guide! Power to the people!"

Mr Roe, of Hartland, north Devon, said that Henrietta would not go back to Edinburgh. She would sue for defamation, last year's costs, the costs if she loses her university place and goes to another university and loss of earnings if she has to delay starting work because she has had to start her degree course again.