Student Politics and criminal law

Just getting ready to teach criminal law this semester and for the first time looked at the full facts behind the chestnut case MacPherson v Brown (1975) 12 SASR 184 – which we use as authority for the mens rea of assault.  The facts in the textbook state:

A student was convicted of having assaulted a lecturer at Flinders University. A number of students, including the defendant, had taken over the administration building in protest over the alleged CIA links of a recently appointed senior administrator. The lecturer in question, who was involved in the re-occupation of the building by university officials, was surrounded by a number of students who for a time prevented him from passing through the group and caused him to fear for his personal safety. No actual physical contact was made and he was allowed to pass after about 10-15 minutes.

The full story is even more interesting.  One key complaint was that History was insisting on a 3 hour exam, and the students felt they should have a right to be part of the decision making process.  There were a range of Maoist ambitions of the student body, highly biased biased reporting, and some very violent reactions against the students in the retaking of the Chancellery.  Below are a few links I’ve found:

Highly unlikely we’d see this interest in educational/political  issues from students these days …

One thought on “Student Politics and criminal law

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  1. Prior to assault moving into our criminal law statute, I used to teach this case at the university where it happened, which was always fun! I do think there is a continuing tradition, with Flinders hosting Students of Sustainability last year and with considerable student opposition to the Lomborg Centre proposal.


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