Letter: Police threaten freedom

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The Independent Online
I AM writing on behalf of the Steering Committee of the Standing Conference of Arts and Social Sciences, whose members are Deans of Faculties and representatives of Subject Associations in those disciplines.

We wish to express our grave concern over recent events at the University of Central England. A volume of Robert Mapplethorpe's photographs has been the subject of police action and the university may be prosecuted. The implications would be extremely serious for academic freedom. While Mapplethorpe's images are controversial, we believe that his status as an artist and the academic context within which the book was being used ought to have acted as a clear guarantee of the integrity and legality of the university's position. We hope common sense will prevail and that no further action will result.

Professor JENNIFER BIRKETT

Convener, steering committee,

Standing conference of Arts and Sciences

University of Birmingham

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