Student faces university backlash after libellous comments about the SU

A student at the University of Lincoln had to take down comments he made on Facebook after they were reported to the Students’ Union. Fraser McFarland, Chairman of the Conservative Future for Lincoln and a Tory candidate in the upcoming local elections, had to make an embarrassing retraction on his Facebook profile. It read: “I am deeply sorry for my remarks about the Students’ Union […] and deeply regret any upset caused by my opinion.”

Facebook is now 5 years old and has over 200 million users worldwide.

McFarland had previously used Facebook to comment on Lincoln’s SU. He said: “…please stop sending me invites for people’s SU campaigns as I don’t care, never have cared and never will care about the Students’ Union.” McFarland also made defamatory comments about the student officer elect, Dan Derricott, who he alleges reported his comments. Derricott refused to comment.

McFarland, speaking to the Linc, said: “I do regret making the original comments.” He also stated: “I would like to retract my comments about Dan” but made no apology for them. The Linc highlighted to McFarland that his retraction should refer to his original comments as “untrue” rather than “opinion”, so as not to qualify his retraction. He chose not to comment on this matter.

Although regretting his first set of comments, McFarland was forthcoming in his criticism of the SU and their handling of his society: “The Students’ Union needs reforming due to the problems we have faced with them this year, including not being allowed a Freshers’ Fayre stall last September and Conservative Future members being threatened with removal from campus by security staff for handing out leaflets to students about joining a political party.”

He also went on to say: “We have had several other problems with the Students’ Union and are shocked by their lack of  [willingness in] helping us, even though we are helping students to get involved with politics at the university, even though there’s a large politics department at the University.”

McFarland also said: “The views I gave at any time are my personal views and not those of Lincoln Conservative Association or the Conservative Party.” Dan Windross, the current Communications Officer for the Students’ Union, chose not to respond to the allegations brought to him.

The Director of Student Services, Judith Carey, who intervened on behalf of the SU, said: “The university and the Students’ Union were concerned about the serious nature of a comment posted by a student on Facebook, and invited him to have an informal discussion about these concerns. The student advised the university during this informal meeting that he had already removed the comments from Facebook having taken personal advice. The university and the student agreed that the matter was closed.”

In January this year, the former chairman of Staffordshire Conservative Future and University of London student, Matthew Lewis, was expelled from the party for boasting on Facebook that he dressed up as Madeleine McCann for a bad-taste private party.

19 Responses to Student faces university backlash after libellous comments about the SU

  1. Dave Berry says:

    I believe the Conservative Future students need to learn when to keep shut.

    No wonder they never get elected, they never learn when to stop.

    Fraser, do you not understand how much the University and the SU do for you?

  2. I know it was Dan has Judith told me it was him… why a future SU officer should deny this I have no idea.

  3. Elaine says:

    Oh my gosh. There is stuff going on in the world…

  4. Fraser, just to clear something up:

    Dan Derricott didn’t deny anything, he just refused to comment.

  5. Jules Connor says:

    What worries me is the niaivity Fraser shows. He is running for election right now, and has no concept of how things work. It’s not just about being able to cite the political line, it’s about understanding how to work within the legal requirements and within the rules. This seems totally lost on Fraser. If he is the new “Conservative Future” I would say that the Future is not bright on many levels!

  6. Jules perhaps you should go on a course or something and then you can tell me what the SU has actually done for its students over the past year…

  7. Level Three Student says:

    Fraser, the SU do a lot for every student at the Union — in terms of education and welfare that goes unnoticed.

    You’re coming across as ungrateful.

    Stop winging and start saying something of interest. The SU are less likely to being doing stuff when they’re caught up in a legal battle with you making comments on Facebook.

  8. Jules Connor says:

    Fraser, it isn’t about what the SU has done – you are standing for an MP so this goes beyond the SU. All I have seen from you is an inabilitiy to work effectively – to even understand the basic aspects of the rules of liable let alone the basic aspects of politics!!

  9. I’m standing for County Council and the comments were not slanderous and I’ve had independant legal advise about that.

    The SU is there to represent Students and they arent doing that at the moment so we need change.

  10. Student says:

    Ermm, hasn’t that just happened? I’m sure we all just voted on a new SU next year, or did I dream it?

    If you read the feature on Chris Charnley (President Elect) and see the great feedback he’s received, surely you can tell change has arrived in Lincoln (I couldn’t resist the Barack Obama implication).

  11. Technically it wouldn’t be slander, as slander is spoken defamation. Libel is written.

  12. Anon says:

    The comment that Fraser made, which the Students’ Union were concerned about was: [Section removed by moderator due to legal implications by republishing libellous comments] It’s just a shame the The Linc have conveniently chosen to leave this out.

  13. Dave Lee says:

    @Anon Convenient?! By reprinting the comments — as you have tried to do — the Linc comes under the same libel laws that Fraser did.

    There’s no other motive at play here. The comments were left out because it would be libellous to re-print them.

    You should probably consider your own maturity in trying to step around the law.

  14. Anon says:

    After someone says to Fraser he doesn’t understand libel, Fraser then goes on to say it wasnt slander… just backing up the point he doesnt know what libel is and is mixing it up with slander. From the looks of the video he doesn’t look like a very good candidate for the Conservative Party, and where is the evidence that youths like having an ASBO? Is it from what you have seen on Eastenders by any chance?

  15. Anon says:

    Sorry Fraser, what did you say in the video? Couldn’t hear you over your chin.

  16. The evidence that ASBO’s doesn work comes from the Social Justice Policy Forum, chaired by Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith MP.

  17. Jules Connor says:

    Would love to know how come everytime Fraser makes a public statement the end result is it becomes a slagging off match with Fraser the main source or culprit. It is seriously worrying that someone that is so belligerent towards his potential Constituents, instead of holding debate and discussions his response is to just belittle them, is even being considered by anyparty. This is just one example of this:

    I would hate to think that anyone with such an attitude would be elected because an inflexible attitude that only allows one perspective can never be a fair representative of others. Not to mention he purports to support free speech and then regularly erases comments he does not agree with – his Candidacy for County Council is a disgrace.

  18. Anon says:

    I would argue that Fraser McFarland is the best thing to happen to Labour & The Lib Dems in a very long time, particularly in Mansfield. Sort it out Mr Cameron!

  19. Simon Rifkind says:

    I hear Cameron did sort it out and McFarland has now been sacked. Getting sacked from a youth movement thats a special achievement!