Warwick Joint Claims – the “rape chat”
Our clients, ‘Jane’ and ‘Susan’, were female undergraduate students at Warwick University, where they were both thriving academically and enjoying university life. In early 2018, Jane was shown a WhatsApp chat group that included some of her male friends. The chat contained highly sexual, anti-female slurs exchanged between the all-male participants. It included video footage of an unidentified female student having sex. Some of the exchanges were also racist. Jane was extremely distressed by what she saw. Susan also became aware of the chat and was similarly distressed.
Both claimants reported the chat to the University. Both were forced to repeat their accounts multiple times to different people, requiring them to repeat traumatic details on numerous occasions. Jane had also been sexually harassed by a member of the chat. The University did not take swift action to protect her. Further, during its investigation into their complaint, University staff failed in three significant respects. First, the University discouraged our clients from working with other women who had been affected by the chat to bring further complaints, leaving our clients to feel isolated and unable to support those other potential complainants emotionally without institutional help. Second, University staff questioned our clients about their sexual history with members of the WhatsApp chat, as if this had any relevance to whether its content broke University regulations. Third, the investigation was structured in such a way as to call into question the independence and impartiality of the investigators.
The University process and the breakdown in trust between our clients and the institution had a significant detrimental effect for both women. Their mental health declined and they ceased enjoying academic work and university life. Both were effectively deprived of the enjoyment of the latter part of their undergraduate degrees.
We acted for both claimants in bringing a claim against the University on the grounds that its handling of the complaint was discriminatory against them on the basis of sex. We reached a settlement that afforded both young women some vindication and enabled them to move on with their lives.
Warwick University: Vice chancellor apologises for mistakes over rape chat scandal (BBC)
In an interview with the BBC, Warwick University’s vice chancellor apologised for not supporting and communicating enough with female students targeted with rape threats. The uni has been sued by two women we represent, for allegations of discrimination and negligence.In the Press
Inside the Warwick University rape chat scandal (BBC)
Our clients tell the BBC how they found themselves targeted by close male friends in a group “rape chat”, and how their complaints were handled poorly by Warwick University.In the Press
Warwick University students SUE over sickening WhatsApp rape chat scandal (Birmingham Live)
The female students who reported the WhatsApp group chat, which involved anti-Semitic, sexist comments, and rape threats, felt like they were being “punished” by the uni’s procedures.In the Press