Did an investigation by London Student influence Toby Young’s resignation?
Nine days after being appointed to the Office for Students, the champion of free schools and right-wing provocateur Toby Young resigned in the face of widespread criticism of his appropriateness for the position.
As Toby ‘@Toadmeister’ Young wrote in a statement on the Spectator website on 9 January, his appointment to the board had become ‘a distraction from its vital work of broadening access to higher education and defending academic freedom.’
The Office for Students chair, Sir Michael Barber, said Young had ‘reached the right conclusion.’
‘Many of his previous tweets and articles were offensive, and not in line with the values of the Office for Students. Mr Young was right to offer an unreserved apology for these comments and he was correct to say that his continuation in the role would have distracted from our important work.’
Young met strong criticism from opposition figures including the shadow education secretary, Angela Rayner, who expressed concerns about Young’s history of homophobia, misogyny and indifference to the rights of people with disabilities in a letter to Theresa May.
Young sought to disarm such criticism in his piece in the Spectator, in which he wrote that ‘The caricature drawn of me in the last seven days, particularly on social media, has been unrecognisable to anyone who knows me.’
However, he conceded: ‘Some of the things I said before I got involved in education, when I was a journalistic provocateur, were either ill-judged or just plain wrong – and I unreservedly apologise.’
The judgement of senior cabinet members including Boris Johnson and Michael Gove were called into question by Young’s resignation, having defended his appointment. Johnson described Young as the “ideal man for [the] job.”
Although it appears Young’s position was already untenable, it may be no coincidence that shortly before his resignation, student newspaper London Student contacted Young for comment regarding his presence at the “London Conference on Intelligence,” a meeting of white supremacist eugenicists at UCL, whose attendees include neo-Nazis and apologists for paedophilia.
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