I’ll sue, says ousted academic who called Duchess of Sussex ‘the dreaded Meghan’

·2-min read
Dr Anne Anderson
Dr Anne Anderson

An academic kicked out of the Arts Society after calling the Duchess of Sussex "the dreaded Meghan" is taking legal action against the charity.

Dr Anne Anderson, an honorary professor at the University of Exeter, was accused of using racist language when she made a reference online to people "of a colourful disposition".

She was later cleared of having any racist intent but a panel declared her comments inappropriate.

The Arts Society directed her to write letters of apology and go on a diversity training course but she refused and was stripped of her accreditation as a lecturer, losing numerous contracts.

Breach of contract

The 65-year-old has now instructed lawyers and is pursuing legal action for breach of contract.

The controversy arose in March 2021, when Dr Anderson delivered an online lecture to members of the society’s Truro branch entitled How did we get Ikea? Scandinavian Modern 1880-1960.

The event took place five days after the Duke and Duchess of Sussexes' interview with Oprah Winfrey.

Before it began, Dr Anderson was chatting to her online audience from her living room and referred to the Duchess as "the dreaded Meghan" during what she has since described as an "off-the-cuff" conversation.

In discussing the volume of media commentary it had generated, she added: “You couldn't turn the television on without some person of a colourful disposition having a moan about something.”

Two people complained.

Days later Dr Anderson, who has given around 25 Arts Society lectures a year since 1994, received an email from Florian Schweizer, chief executive of the arts education charity, informing her that her accreditation had been suspended because of her alleged “racist” language.

'Untrue account of the facts'

The society was also concerned that an "untrue account of the facts" given to the media by Dr Anderson had brought the society into disrepute.

“I have lost three-quarters of my income,” the academic told the Daily Mail. “I can’t sleep.”

She is thought to have the backing of many members of the society. One wrote on Twitter: “How utterly ridiculous. I'm a recent recruit to the Arts Society and had no idea they indulged in this utter nonsense. Fairly sure the members locally would back her 100 per cent.”

Dr Anderson will reportedly argue that she was falsely accused of using "inappropriate" or "racist" language and that the conditions she had to meet to restore her accreditation were disproportionate.

A spokesperson said they were satisfied they had "acted reasonably and in a measured fashion".

A statement added: “It was Dr Anderson’s unfortunate failure to comply with some of the conditions imposed upon her, and her unreasonable escalations of the issue, that made her disaccreditation necessary.

“We did everything we could to avoid an outcome like this, whilst also maintaining our commitment to diversity and to investigating serious complaints.”

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