Dr Peter Hutchinson, who admitted to making "inappropriate" remarks in supervisions in 2014 and 2015DYLAN SPENCER-DAVIDSON

A Trinity Hall fellow is once again under investigation, after reportedly breaching sanctions placed on him in 2015 after allegations that he had sexually harassed undergraduates were investigated by the College.

Dr Peter Hutchinson, former vice-master of Trinity Hall, was banned from any contact with undergraduates after ten female students accused him of making “unwanted” comments of an “inappropriate sexual and sexist nature” during supervisions in 2014 and 2015.

Yesterday, The Guardian reported that Trinity Hall are investigating Hutchinson again, this time to determine whether he breached restrictions placed upon him by attending a lecture last month which was attended by undergraduates. A College document, seen by the newspaper, allegedly confirms that an investigation into the alleged breach is ongoing.

The revelation comes only days after Hutchinson issued a public apology through the University, in which he said that he continued to “deeply regret the comments I made, and the impact they had on the students concerned,” and endorsed the University’s new campaign against sexual harassment, Breaking the Silence. The Guardian’s article indicates that this public statement was issued following inquiries made by its reporters about Hutchinson’s conduct.

According to the report, ten students emailed Trinity Hall’s senior tutor, Clare Jackson, in August 2015, alleging that Hutchinson had committed ten acts of misconduct in seminars, supervisions, and social events at the College.

Jackson’s response says that none of them would be supervised by him again, and added that both she and the college master, the Revd Dr Jeremy Morris, recognised the “seriousness and the formal nature of your complaint”.

The allegations included Hutchinson asking students in a seminar how long sex lasted in their experience, and saying that women who have a lot of children were “sex mad”.

Jackson wrote to the complainants in September 2015 informing them of the outcome of the formal investigation and telling them that Hutchinson had acknowledged that his words and actions were “inappropriate and could legitimately be construed as harassment”.


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Contradicting the communication with complainants in 2015, a Trinity Hall spokesperson said described the investigation as “informal”. They went on to say that the action was “communicated directly to the students concerned and was accepted and welcomed by them as a satisfactory resolution of their complaint against Dr Hutchinson.

“Whenever complaints are made to the College, they will be fully investigated and action taken, if that is what the student or staff member chooses.

“Trinity Hall remains committed to keeping student choice at the heart of its complaints procedure, and works closely with students to ensure complaints are handled sensitively and in the manner they direct, whether that is informally, or formally”, they added. However, it is far from clear that students were satisfied with the resolution reached.

Though banned from student contact, Dr Hutchinson continues to hold an advisory role at Trinity Hall as a member of its investments committee, and some feel uncomfortable with his continued presence in college.

A second complainant told The Guardian that the action taken by the college was “entirely insufficient,” noting that students still see him around college and that she herself had seen him in a corridor.

She also complained that Hutchinson was praised as “the linchpin of Trinity Hall’s teaching in MML” and “unfailingly polite and informed” in a college publication published after 2015. “It all felt like a bit of a hush up,” she went on.

The allegations made in 2015 are not the first made against Dr Hutchinson. He was tried and cleared of sexual assault in 2006, after an ex-student accused him of groping her in his college rooms. His accuser, then a police trainee, alleged that Hutchinson grabbed her bottom after inviting her for drinks in his room, and later attempted to kiss her while making “a pervy, Benny Hill, lascivious, groaning” noise.

Dr Hutchinson told Norwich Crown Court in 2006 that he had twice patted the accuser on her bottom on previous occasions and that she had not objected. “I just cannot understand how something which seemed so trivial was so important to her,” he told detectives after his arrest at the time, suggesting that the gin had gone to his head.

The new revelations about Hutchinson come just over a month after the launch of a new campaign by the University and its Colleges to combat sexual harassment, Breaking the Silence, which aims to establish a formal approach to relations between students and staff. Its launch was supported by actress and Newnham alumna Emma Thompson.

A CUSU survey, released as part of the campaign’s launch, revealed that 77 per cent of respondents had experienced sexual harassment, and 30 per cent had been sexually assaulted.

Sarah d’Ambrumenil, head of the office for student conduct, complaints and appeals at Cambridge, told The Guardian that all serious allegations were dealt with centrally, while “low level harassment” may continue to be dealt with at college level.

“It’s about increasing transparency and consistency in information sharing, so everyone is clear what options are available to them,” she said.