In Scotland, the University of Edinburgh is urging its students to report “misinformation” following an accusation that one of its professors was spreading false narratives on the Russo-Ukranian war.
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The person who was accused of sprading false misinformation - is Tim Hayward, a professor of environmental political theory – he retweeted an official statement by a Russian representative to the United Nations, which claimed that the alleged Russian bombing of a maternity hospital in Mariupol, Ukraine was a false flag operation; his views were reported in a BBC article.
Professor Hayward has come out to defend his teaching methodology, and claims that his course only debates whether a claim should only be accepted on the basis of someone’s position and authority, adding that the concept extends to his own views at the same time.
After the BBC’s released its article, the professor came out against the BBC - as he considers that this is an attack against him and other academics who are challenging the main narrative. Hayward wrote on Twitter: “Academia should support open discussion of propaganda, not be constrained to tow an official line in an information war.”
Both The Times and the BBC have stated that the University is committed to freedom of speech and creating a “safe space for staff and students to discuss controversial topics,” but the university also said that it has a “strong view against the spread of misinformation” and has therefore requested that students report any worries that they might have of the university’s professors.
Earlier this year, Tim Hayward also shared a link to an article which questioned the widely reported Russian attack on a theater in Mariupol, asking “what do we know of the reality?”
The article also suggested that the alleged assault may have also been a false-flag operation carried out by Ukrainians in order to blame Russia; and give rise to public anger - which would then push the West into a military confrontation.
Eventually, students at the Scottish University started to take notice of the professor’s stance on the events surrounding the Russo-Ukrainian war.
A Ukrainian student who is studying at the University of Edinburgh - Kvitka Perehinets - says that members of her family are currently fighting in the war. In fact, Perehinets was the individual who informed the University about the professor's activity.
She told the BBC that she was very concerned about the professor’s stance on the conflict on social media, claiming that: “The moment we start to equate the two sides in the story is the moment we lose our humanity. The oppressor — in this case Russia — should not be given the same kind of platform as those who are being oppressed.”
Mariangela Alejandro has also come forward and expressed her worries over professor Hayward’s statements regarding the alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria, alongside his skeptical stance on the White Helmets organization, which talked about in a lecture with students.
During one of Hayward’s lectures - which was record and handed over to the BBC - the professor told his students of two potential narratives regarding the attack in Doumia, Syria in April 2018: “One narrative says the White Helmets helped rescue victims, provided evidence and gave witness statements about the chemical attack on Douma on 7 April 2018. The critics say the White Helmets were responsible for staging a false flag event to spur the West to attack the Syrian government.”
According to the BBC, Alejandro said that she walked out of Hayward’s lecture “thinking ‘it could be true’ that the attack was faked, until she spoke to a Syrian friend.” However, the article did not actually specify what her Syrian friend actually told her about the events in Syria.