Eton College ‘free speech’ row threatens funding as furious donors call to cut cash flow | UK | News (Reports)


Will Knowland, a teacher at the prestigious all-boys boarding school, was sacked after posting a lecture online that the school refused to let him teach in class. The lecture, which critiqued “current radical feminist orthodoxy”, faced concerns over sexism, according to reports.

Barristers who watched the footage found the lecture breached the Equalities Act and also broke regulations that uphold standards at independent schools.

An Eton College spokesman said there was “simply no other choice than to ask for it to be taken down”.

Mr Knowland was dismissed after refusing to do so multiple times. He posted the footage to his personal YouTube channel.

His dismissal has provoked backlash in recent days with pupils and staff demanding Mr Knowland be allowed to return. Critics claim his dismissal amounted to a failure on the part of Eton College to protect Mr Knowland’s “freedoms”.

Now, multiple donors to the school are attempting to rally support to withhold donations to Eton in protest, The Telegraph has claimed, citing fundraising sources.

One former Etonian has threatened to take the 580-year-old Eton College out of his will.

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He also defended ideas such as ‘chivalry’ and ‘honour’ as male qualities, according to the Daily Mail.

As of yesterday, an online crowdfunding effort in support of Mr Knowland had raised more than £45,000 to cover the legal costs of a potential employment tribunal.

However, an internal appeal panel at Eton College is due to rule on the teacher’s dismissal before then. His case will be heard next week.

Eton officials have defended the college’s decision to sack Mr Knowland, stating the case is “not an issue of free speech”.

The college said an internal disciplinary process “determined that the master’s actions represented gross misconduct which should result in dismissal”.

The decision was also defended by Eton provost and Conservative politician Baron Waldegrave of North Hill.

Writing to parents, he insisted the college encourages “open-minded, independent and critical thinking” and said “Eton will never cancel debate”.

However, he added: “Everyone accepts, including the teacher concerned, that such freedom cannot be absolute”.


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