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E-mail not mine, says academic


August 18, 2001

The academic named as the author of a union e-mail condemning a lecture by right-wing Israeli academic Yossi Olmert says she did not authorise the message issued in her name and was horrified by it.

Marian Burford, president of the Victoria University branch of the National Tertiary Education Union, said yesterday she supported Dr Olmert speaking at the university, and would have probably gone to hear him.

The university has apologised to the Israeli embassy over a decision to cancel Dr Olmert's lecture on the Footscray campus on Wednesday. Dr Olmert described the decision to cancel as "academic terrorism".

Earlier this week, an e-mail to university staff in Ms Burford's name described the lecture as a "provocative and offensive act", and called for a second speaker with an alternative view.

Lecture organiser Robert Pascoe cancelled the lecture, citing lack of numbers. He also tried to find a second speaker, but said he was not influenced by the union. Professor Pascoe acknowledged he had made a mistake in cancelling the lecture.

Ms Burford said yesterday there had been a mix-up when she was contacted by an administrator in her office and a non-academic member of the branch's executive about Dr Olmert's lecture.

Ms Burford, who had been off work ill when her office contacted her, said she was horrified when she learnt the e-mail had gone out in her name.

By SHANE GREEN, Copyright © The Age Company Ltd 2001.


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