School impostor sent 300 letters to tutors

John Arlidge Scotland Correspondent
Tuesday 26 September 1995 23:02

Brian MacKinnon, the 32-year-old man who masqueraded as a 17-year- old to return to his old school in Glasgow, sent some 300 letters to tutors at Glasgow University in a desperate attempt to win a place at medical school, it emerged yesterday.

University officials made the disclosure as they denied claims by Mr MacKinnon that he had been unfairly treated by university staff. In an interview with the Glasgow Herald he said that tutors at the university had cheated him out of his place at the medical school.

Mr Mackinnon began studying medicine in Glasgow in 1980 but was thrown out in 1983 when he twice failed his second-year exams. He claimed in the interview that senior tutors were "aggressively unsympathetic" and had wrongly forced him to leave. That, he explained, was why he decided to go back to Bearsden Academy to begin his education again, posing as 17-year-old Brandon Lee.

Professor Brian Whiting, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at the university, said yesterday that tutors had "bent over backwards" to help Mr MacKinnon. When he failed his exams, he went through all the conventional appeal procedures. But Mr MacKinnon did not convince the academic authorities that he would make the grade. "The situation became hopeless," Professor Whiting said, and the university had a duty to students and the public to maintain academic standards.

Professor Whiting added that after his final appeal was turned down, Mr MacKinnon wrote to all 300 members of the university's senate and court begging to be allowed back. into the school. His appeals against the decision were rejected.

Dundee University is expected to confirm today that it is withdrawing the place in its medical school granted to Mr MacKinnon last year.

Leading article, page 18

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