Message from Morag Ross QC

Content Warning: The content of this email relates to sexual violence. If you would like to access support, without reading further, please follow this link Dignity at Work and Study Support, Guidance and Reporting - this includes resources on sexual harassment, assault and violence.

Sent on behalf of Morag Ross QC


Dear Colleagues,

I have been asked by the Principal of the University to carry out a review of the University’s approach to addressing gender-based violence and, in particular, I am looking at the University’s current staff and student procedures and support arrangements.

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.

In carrying out this investigation and review, I think that it is important for me not to be too constrained and to adopt a broad approach. I am also conscious that violence and abuse exist within a context, in society as a whole and within the University, and that it is important to have an understanding of culture, expectations about behaviour and the level of awareness of and confidence in the systems that exist to deal with complaints and conduct issues. It is, of course, important for me to speak to those in senior positions within the University who have responsibility for these, but, in addition, I am very keen to hear from any member of staff who has relevant experience or information or who wishes to share concerns or otherwise make representations. This is an open invitation. I am also seeking views from students.

For this investigation and review to be effective, it is important that I am well-informed and I would like to gather as much information from members of staff as I can. Your participation will help me to understand what the issues are and that will, in turn, help me in making recommendations to the University. If you think that you might be able to contribute then I would encourage you, please, to get in touch. I am especially keen to hear from (i) those who have made complaints and who have experience of the University’s processes, (ii) those who have been the subject of complaints, and (iii) those who may have experienced gender-based violence but who have not made a complaint.

You can find out more about the terms of reference for this investigation and review on the University webpages and the general principles underpinning the process.

I would want to emphasise the following points.

I am independent of the University. I am working with the assistance of David Blair, who is also an advocate and who, likewise, is independent. If you provide information to us in confidence, we will respect that.

You are welcome to provide information in writing.

If you would like to meet in person, we will make arrangements to do that at a place and time that is convenient for you.

We are open to holding meetings either one-to-one or with groups of colleagues. If you would like to be accompanied by a friend, that is fine.

If you would prefer to speak by phone or organise a meeting on Zoom or Teams, please let us know.

If you have any questions that you would like to ask before deciding whether you would like to participate, that is fine. Please just let us know.

You are welcome to get in touch as soon as you are ready. It will assist me in completing this review within a reasonable timescale if all those who wish to submit their views do so by 29 April 2022, although I may also be able to consider views submitted after that date.

I can be contacted at

Morag Ross QC

25 January 2022

First published: 19 April 2022