The ‘equal responsibility’ statement

In response to the ten being served with charges, 174 occupants signed a ‘joint confession’ admitting equal responsibility:

Senate House
19 March 1970

Trevor Thomas
Liverpool University

Dear Vice-Chancellor,

In the light of the selection of ten students for disciplinary action in relation to the occupation of Senate House, I would like to bring certain information tp your notice.

I the undersigned hereby declare that I was involved in the occupation, as of Monday 9th March.  Furthermore, I declare that I am equally responsible for an action taken in accordance with the wishes of the corporate body of the occupation, which in fact includes all actions taken by the occupants since the occupation began on Monday the 9th.

This letter will be delivered by hand and signed in the presence of an involved witness, to whom suitable  identification will be shown to validate my signature.

Yours etc

Witnessed by

TA McGoldrick, Chaplain

On 15 April, during the Easter vacation, the 174 received a letter from Burchnall asking them whether they intended by this statement to admit that they were guilty to a charge of which 10 students had been found guilty by the Board of Discipline, namely ”that you are guilty of conduct which was detrimental to the discharge of the duties of the University in that on 9th March, 1970, and succeeding days you occupied the Senate House and excluded the staff of the University with the intention of hampering the discharge of these duties”. The following letter was hurriedly mailed out by the March 19 Committee:

Dear comrade,

You will no doubt have received in yesterday’s post a letter from Burchnall, the Registrar. This letter is not a preferment of a charge and you should reply as follows:

“To my personal knowledge no charges have been laid against me concerning the occupation of Senate House; until charges have been preferred I can make no plea, or make any comment.  Also, I cannot understand why you have sent me this letter, so perhaps you will elucidate your reasons for so doing as those given in your letter are entirely unsatisfactory”.

It is important that as far as possible the replies are the same, but if you have already made a different response don’t worry as it will cut no ice in any case they may bring against you later.

You are not alone.  There have been a lot of these letters sent out, so there is no reason to think that they are out to get you personally.

It is vital that you attend a meeting of the March 19 Committee a 5 o’clock, Tuesday 21 April in the Gilmour Hall.

Any further enquiries to ANF 1203.

The Registrar received 127 replies to his letter. To see what the Registrar proposed the response of the University should be, see this.


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