Student Newspaper Editor Resigns Over ‘Sexual Hoax’

The editor in chief of a top campus newspaper in Britain has resigned after attempting to plant a story within a rival student publication involving sexual favors and dirty grading practices.

Beginning in mid-January, Philip Brook, the top editor of The Cambridge Student, a weekly paper at Cambridge University, sent anonymous e-mails to The Tab, an online news outlet run by Cambridge undergraduates.  The messages, purported to be from a female Cambridge student, claimed a senior tutor had requested oral sex in exchange for bettering the student’s academic standing.

Brook’s aim appears to have been tricking the Tab into running a sensational “false news story,” possibly as payback for a similar effort initiated by the Tab the previous semester.  Last fall, the Tab scammed the Student into publishing a hoax story [see screenshot below] on the hot new phenomenon “bog snorkeling.”  The foolery is apparently part of a larger “healthy rivalry” between the two outlets, in place since the Tab‘s founding in 2009.

The sexual nature of Brook’s retaliatory hoax obviously intrigued Tab editors. According to a Daily Mail report, the outlet is “best known for posting photos of scantily-clad female undergraduates and exposing the seedy underbelly of university life.”

A portion of one of the messages Brook sent, while posing as the student accusing the tutor of sexual impropriety: “I was supervised by him for the term and to be honest I’m not the best at his topic. So I asked him what I needed to do to improve my grades and he suggested that he could think of an excellent way to improve my grades. . . . He said he’d give me a ‘blow by blow account’ back in his rooms the next evening. . . . Obviously I was shocked and appalled at the time.”

Brook then sent over a scan of a letter [see screenshot below] supposedly written by another tutor confirming the sexual allegations were being investigated.  Yet, after launching an investigation of their own, Tab editors discovered the academic named in the letter did not create or send anything like it and was not even in the country when it was allegedly penned.

Further inquiries traced the e-mails to Brook.  An awkward phone call between the Tab and Brook followed, with Brook claiming to have no knowledge of the hoax and then declining comment.  A day later, he resigned as Student editor in chief.

A portion of his statement sent to the Tab at that time: “I recognize that my actions were a serious lapse of judgement and apologise unreservedly to all parties concerned.  I would like to make it explicitly clear that I acted in an entirely personal capacity. . . . All members of the [TCS] editorial team and board of directors were unaware of my actions.”

Brook must pay the legal fees accrued by Cambridge while looking into the matter and may face further punishment affecting his standing at the school.

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