Investigation and Review Process

In order to answer these questions [terms of reference], I would like to gather as much information as I can from a broad range of people.


General Principles

General Principles

I am independent of the University.  I have, in the past, provided legal advice to the University but, otherwise, I have no formal or informal connection with the University. 

The University has made it clear that I can speak to anyone who wishes to speak to me. 

Participating in this process is voluntary.  I cannot, and would not wish to, compel anyone to speak to me.  I would hope that there is an understanding that in participating in this process and in sharing information with me there will be the opportunity to contribute to improving the University’s procedures and support arrangements for both staff and students.

Information can be provided to me in confidence.  If anyone wishes to provide information to me in confidence, I will respect that.  I would hope, where information is provided in confidence, that will be because there is a good reason for doing so.  Generally, it is better for the evidence on which conclusions are based to be shared, but I well understand that in some cases confidentiality will be important.  I will only disclose information on the basis of express consent.  That is subject to one qualification: if I am given information about a current matter where I am bound to disclose it, for example where there is a serious concern for the welfare of a person or people, or in the interests of preventing criminal activity, then I will do so.  In preparing for and carrying out this investigation and review, the University is providing me with valuable administrative assistance and I have the benefit of IT support, including the use of a University email address, to facilitate communication.  However, information submitted to me in confidence will not be read by anyone within the University. 

Whilst I recognise that some people may wish to provide information or make representations anonymously, I would prefer that those who contact me identify themselves.  If it is considered essential to remain anonymous, I would welcome an explanation as to why that is the case.

It is essential that I consider how the University’s procedures operate in practice and I have been provided with information relating to specific cases which are of direct relevance to my investigation and review.  The purpose of this exercise is not to re-open or review decisions that have been made.

My focus is on current policies, procedures and support arrangements but I am interested in looking at these in context and in understanding how things have changed, or not, in recent years.  I am interested primarily in speaking to current students and members of staff but it is also likely to be helpful for me to hear from former students and former members of staff who have relevant recent experience.

The term ‘gender-based violence’ is used in a variety of contexts.  My working approach is informed by the description of the term used by bodies such as the Scottish Public Health Observatory, which refers to gender-based violence as covering a range of violence and abuse that includes domestic abuse, rape, sexual assault, harassment, commercial sexual exploitation and harmful practices, and as being committed disproportionately by men against women.  I do not seek to be prescriptive or to define the kinds of examples or types of experience that are likely to be relevant.  I am interested in hearing from anyone who wishes to contribute.

The University does not exist in isolation and, within the bounds of reasonableness, I intend to take account of policies, practice and guidance from elsewhere.

My investigation and review will be thorough.  Whilst, at the outset, there is no fixed deadline and the timing will depend on the extent of information provided, the process cannot be open-ended.  I would envisage being able to carry out the necessary work by the summer of 2022 but that is indicative and I will keep the timescale under review.

I am conscious that, for some, the subject matter may mean that it is difficult to come forward.  I will do all that I can to make sure that the process for engaging with this investigation and review is accessible, straightforward and not intimidating.  So far as I am able, I will be open and flexible in my approach and I will welcome feedback.

I will adhere to my obligations under the Data Protection Act 2018 and my GDPR policy is available on request.



In carrying out this investigation and review, I have assistance from David Blair.  David is a junior advocate and will work with me in meeting people and gathering information.  David is also independent of the University and is bound by the same obligations of confidentiality as I am.

In addition, I have administrative and IT support from the University.


There is an open invitation to all current and former students and all current and former members of staff who wish to provide me with information and representations.  I will welcome information whether provided in writing or orally.

I am open to communication using any suitable means, whether by email or post, in a face to face meeting, or an online meeting, or by telephone.

I can be initially contacted using the email address 

Sources of Information

Written material

I have been provided with and have read a substantial amount of written information, much of which comes from the University.  I intend to review this material further and, informed by what I am told by interviewees, to identify what additional written information will be needed.

People in positions of responsibility within the University

I have already had preliminary discussions with some people in positions of responsibility within the University and I expect to have further discussions with those who hold formal responsibilities and who are likely to be in a position to assist me. 

People with direct experience of complaints and conduct procedures within the University

I am interested to hear from people who have direct experience, in any capacity, of using the University’s procedures in cases involving gender-based violence.  I am conscious that, at least for some people, it may be difficult to go over past experience of those procedures.  Nevertheless, I would very much welcome the opportunity to speak to those who have made complaints or who have been the subject of complaints.

People with other relevant experience

I will welcome contact from anyone with relevant experience or information.  I would be particularly interested in hearing from anyone who has experienced gender-based violence or who has related concerns and who has not reported that or made a complaint.