Leniency for protest student

Owen Holland, the Cambridge PhD student suspended by Cambridge University for two and half years for a protest against cuts, had his sentence cut to one term yesterday.

Mr Holland was handed a seven-term sentence after he led a protest during a speech by David Willetts, the Universities Minister, in November of last year.

An appeal hearing yesterday – made up of some of the university's most senior members – allowed Mr Holland to return to his studies in January 2013.

The court upheld the charge that Mr Holland "recklessly impeded free speech" by chanting a poem that made Mr Willetts unable to give a talk. Other students repeated the poem, after which they occupied the stage.

The court said its decision was made in light of the damage that the suspension could do to Mr Holland's academic career.

The case attracted worldwide publicity and a petition by members of the university to reinstate Mr Holland received over 3,000 signatures. An international petition gathered over 5,500 names.