Northern Ireland

Police probe online threats and abuse aimed at QUB's Professor Colin Harvey

Queen's University's Professor Colin Harvey. Picture by Ivan Ewart
Queen's University's Professor Colin Harvey. Picture by Ivan Ewart

POLICE have confirmed they are probing social media posts targetting embattled Queen's University academic Colin Harvey.

The latest attacks on the acclaimed professor of human rights law came after he recently posted details of a pending Queen's report on Irish unity.

Last week DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said he had met with leaders from the university over the report as it included logos from QUB.

Prof Harvey is also a member of Ireland's Future, a non-profit organisation which campaigns for new constitutional arrangements on the island of Ireland.

Critics have directly and indirectly attacked Prof Harvey in recent years.

It is understood that on the advice of security experts Prof Harvey has had a panic alarm fitted in his office, his name plate removed from his office door and information about his location removed from the university's website.

QUB - who released a statement yesterday following a similar release in March - condemned the ongoing "threatening and abusive commentary".

The PSNI said it was "aware of multiple social media posts towards an individual" and that its enquiries were continuing.

At the weekend a statement from Prof Harvey's lawyers highlighted what they described as a "sustained campaign of intimidation and harassment" against the academic.

KRW Law said approval for the use of the university logo "was explicitly sought in advance and was definitively authorised, by the appropriate authority".

Prof Harvey last night appealed to Sir Jeffrey to engage in "respectful dialogue, discussion, and debate" after the DUP leader.

Sir Jeffrey has yet to respond.

Prof Harvey last night told The Irish News he was appealing to the DUP leader directly.

"Come and talk to me, engage with me, let’s discuss the present and possible futures," he said.

"I would welcome such a pluralist and open constitutional conversation."

The QUB academic said his work in the area of "questions around constitutional change and human rights" would continue.

"It is disappointing to see this unpleasant personalised campaign against me intensify once again," he said.

In a statement last night Sinn Féin vice-president Michelle O’Neill said there was an "onus on the PSNI to investigate the matter, and also to ensure Mr Harvey’s personal safety".

Saying it "could not be taken lightly" Ms O'Neill said: "As far back as 2019 the graduate body at Queen's itself unanimously passed a motion condemning these attacks on university staff.

“These attacks are dangerous and must end.”