Bianca Jagger denies Telegraph sex assault quote

National News News University News

6731913881_c31f656c20Controversy has emerged after the Sunday Telegraph alleged that Bianca Jagger had made comments accusing Oxford University of providing inadequate support to victims of sexual assault.

The ‘Mandrake’ Column of the Sunday Telegraph claimed that Ms Jagger had accused the University of being dismissive about accusations of rape and sexual assault last Sunday.

The column, edited by journalist Tim Walker, focused on comments supposedly made by Ms Jagger after speaking at the Oxford Union last month.

Speaking on the subject of violence against women, Mandrake claimed that that Ms Jagger told the Telegraph: “I heard from a number of students that when women complain to the colleges about rape or violence against them, it is all hushed up because they don’t want any scandal.

“They said these women had a lot of pressure put on them to keep it quiet and there was little they could do. That is outrageous.”

However, Jagger then put the validity of the article into doubt, by tweeting on Tuesday: “I was surprised to read @ThatTimWalker in Sunday @Telegraph claiming to have spoken to me about Oxford University. I never talked to him!”

Mr Walker subsequently replied that Jagger spoke to another journalist working on the column before pointing out that Ms Jagger did not “dispute the facts of the story.” At the time of going to press, Jagger had not responded to Mr Walker.

The Telegraph article implied that Jagger’s wider point was about the poor record of British Universities in general, saying she added:  “In the UK, one in seven students has been the victim of serious sexual assault. Only four per cent of the women assaulted go to the college authorities. There is a culture of silence about it on campuses.”

When asked how the information reached the journalists involved or whether Ms Jagger was aware that her comments were to be reported in a national newspaper, Tim Walker was unavailable for comment.

In response to the controversy, an Oxford University spokesperson stressed that “The University and colleges take rape and sexual assault extremely seriously. They are crimes that should be reported to the police, but personal support and welfare are also crucial.

‘There is a wide range of support available in Oxford, through OUSU, the colleges and the University, up to and including a professional counselling service.

This has done little to ease the concerns of members of sexual assault campaign groups such as It Happens Here. One member of the campaign group, who wished to remain anonymous, said that personal experience had taught her that college and University authorities were far more likely to simply ignore requests than try to conceal them for fear of scandal.

Suzanne Holsomback, OUSU Vice-President for Women, was less damning in her opinion of the Oxford system: “OUSU has worked for many years to raise awareness of these issues and with the launching of the It Happens Here campaign, more attention has been drawn to the issues surrounding support for survivors of sexual abuse.

“It is exciting to note that the University is currently rewriting the Harassment policy and is including in the guidance ways to support survivors of sexual violence.”

Holsomback maintained, however, that the University could do more to improve support systems for victims of sexual assault, stating:

“The Oxford colleges and the University can continually improve their support structures and resources for survivors of sexual violence. One helpful way for Colleges and departments to be proactive is by getting whole welfare teams trained on working with survivors and making sure their systems work when engaged.”

Ms Jagger is the founder of the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation and currently serves as a Goodwill Ambassador of the Council of Europe. She previously worked as an actress and model and was formerly the wife of Rolling Stone Mick Jagger.


Sign up for the newsletter!

Want to contribute? Join our contributors’ group here or email us – click here for contact details