SNP hopeful sends bizarre email calling for university bosses to give lead academic ‘extra marking’ for Twitter criticism
THE East Dunbartonshire candidate John Nicolson sent off the email to the master of Birbeck College in London after a fiery Twitter exchange with Dr Belinda Brooks-Gordon.
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East Dunbartonshire hopeful John Nicolson sent a bizarre email to the master of Birbeck College in London after the fiery Twitter exchange with Dr Belinda Brooks-Gordon.
The lecturer in forensic psychology is standing for the Lib Dems in the Cities of London and Westminster seat and had voiced her support for Nicolson’s opponent Jo Swinson.
Brooks-Gordon had referred to former BBC journalist Nicolson’s property portfolio in London and suggested he could return to the city and questioned his credentials as a local candidate.
Nicolson joined the Twitter exchange to rubbish the claim.
But he did not let the matter rest there and decided to send off an email to Brooks-Gordon’s boss at the college, which is part of the University of London.
“I have been on the receiving end of a string of unsolicited, and rather intemperate tweets from one of your academics this evening,” he wrote.
“She identifies herself as a representative of Birbeck.
“While I fully respect academic freedom, I suspect she does not represent the college as her Twitter biography implies she does.”
Nicolson also accused the Lib Dem of “trolling” on behalf of her party.
“I had to add Dr Brooks-Gordon to my very short list of blocked correspondents,” he said.
“I confess, as someone with many friends in academia, I am a little surprised that Birbeck staff have so much free time that they can devote their attention to targeting candidates in Scotland on behalf of the Lib Dems in England – indeed not just their candidates but their supporters too.
“Perhaps a little extra marking might occupy the extra hours?”
Brooks-Gordon said she was “astonished” by the email.
“It was extraordinary,” she said.
“To do that to an academic in someway feels worse than to any other form of employment because freedom of speech is so important.
“Is he going to be like that if he is an MP and anyone disagrees with him? It was clearly intended to frighten me off.
“I had heard about some of the goings on in Scotland but to get an email like that was unbelievable.”
A Scottish Lib Dem spokeswoman added: “What kind of person engaged in debate on twitter thinks its appropriate to complain to someone’s boss?
“It would be seen as inappropriate for anyone to do this – let alone a candidate running for office.”
But a spokesman for the SNP defended Nicolson.
“Lib Dem candidate Dr Belinda Brooks-Gordon made repeated false claims regarding John Nicolson on Twitter, despite having been told they were completely incorrect.
“It is for her to explain why she has not retracted her untrue comments and apologised for her actions.”
Nicolson had a successful career in journalism before entering politics and is a former reporter for Newsnight in London.
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