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Cambridge graduate sues over handling of harassment complaint

A Cambridge graduate has said that she’s suing the University over the way it dealt with her sexual harassment complaint.

Danielle Bradford, a Cambridge graduate, is taking action against the University of Cambridge because she “wants things to change for other students”.

Ms Bradford made a complaint to the University about a course supervisor sending her “sexualised” text messages and touching her inappropriately. At first, she withheld from making a formal complaint, however after the summer break, the incident started to affect her mental health.

“I was having panic attacks. I was having night terrors. My mental health was getting really bad,” she said.

The University responded by putting rules in place to ensure there was no contact with the supervisor she had accused. They also wrote her a letter of apology which she said “didn’t include or recognise the word harassment”.

“It was along the lines of ‘I’m sorry you felt this way from my actions’,” she stated.

Ms Bradford did not feel that the University had dealt with the investigation fairly and the rules put in place made her feel “restricted” at her own university. As a result, she has decided to sue the University for discrimination under the Equality Act, to bring about “some real concrete changes”.

“In any other industry someone accused of sexual harassment is suspended on pay and an independent investigation is launched. I had to skip lectures and avoid certain buildings while he continued to teach on campus,” Ms Bradford told The Times.

In any other industry someone accused of sexual harassment is suspended on pay and an independent investigation is launched

– Danielle Bradford

Ms Bradford told Channel 4 News that she was told to “think about it (the complaint) very carefully” as it could affect her place in the department “and any kind of future career” that she wanted to go into.

The case comes after it was revealed that 165 reports of rape and sexual assault were made at the University of Cambridge over three years.

The University of Cambridge stated that they are changing the way it deals with sexual harassment complaints.

In a statement, the University said: “We accept that in the past the adoption of the criminal standard of proof sexual misconduct in our disciplinary process has affected students’ confidence in the procedure and was out of line with other universities.

“To help counter this the university put in place additional measures specifically targeting harassment and sexual misconduct and offers specialist support to students who have been subjected to any form of sexual misconduct.

“From 1 October, the disciplinary rules will change so that a finding of breach of our disciplinary code can be made on the ‘balance of probabilities’ rather than ‘beyond reasonable doubt’.”


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