One of the most famous human rights barristers in the world will be defending three students potentially facing expulsion from their university.
Geoffrey Robertson QC, who has worked for Julian Assange and Mike Tyson, will be representing students who had taken part in a non-violent protest at the University of Sussex on a pro-bono basis.
The students attracted national press attention in December when they were suspended for what their university described as “persistent disruption” in a long-running campaign against the out-sourcing of campus services.
Michael Segalov, one of the students involved, described Geoffrey Robertson as “one of the top human rights lawyers in the world”.
He said: “The cases against us attempt to vilify our involvement in peaceful protest, part of a long tradition of student activism and integral to democratic principles, and this is deeply worrying. The crackdown on protest seen all over the country is undoubtedly part of the worrying trend of marketisation in higher education.”
A fourth student is being represented by Paul Bowen QC, while the fifth of the so-called “Sussex Five”, suspended at the same time, has had his hearing postponed until March whilst external investigations take place.
In an FOI request released this week, the University of Sussex revealed that it had spent £27,155 on legal fees in relation to an injunction against a one-week occupation held on its Falmer campus in November. Students had left the occupied building on the morning of the court date, and the hearing was uncontested.
Referring to an earlier occupation at Sussex, a spokesperson for the university said: “In financial terms alone, the sustained occupation in March cost the university over £25,000 a week in lost revenue and additional security. Acting swiftly to bring the November occupation to an end in one week actually reduced the potential costs overall."