A sacked Kingston University lecturer who set up a website critical of Vice-Chancellor Sir Peter Scott has been found guilty of using it to harass him.

Dr Howard Fredrics, 47, of Park Road, Hampton Wick, a music lecturer between 2002 and 2006, did not turn up at Kingston Magistrates’ Court for the trial on Tuesday morning.

Magistrates rejected his plea for an adjournment, delivered by fax, because he was suffering from swine flu, and issued an arrest warrant with bail to force him to attend court for sentencing in the New Year.

University Vice-Chancellor Sir Peter Scott, whose birth name is George but is known as Peter, told magistrates the website was designed to humiliate him and was derisory to his colleagues.

Sir Peter said: “In the first case it is extremely embarassing. It is obviously intended to embarass and humiliate me.

“On several occasions I have been at events and colleagues have come up to me and said ‘are you aware there’s a very strange website that appears in your name?’ “Secondly, it contains entirely inaccurate information. For example, for a long time it stated that I received my knighthood because I was a firm friend of Tony Blair.

“In fact I have never met Tony Blair. On his policy of increasing tuition fees I was personally opposed to it.”

Sir Peter admitted he had only met Dr Fredrics five times and, despite the charge of harassment, there had been no attempts to contact him directly.

He said the stress of the website’s existence could exacerbate a heart attack he suffered three years ago.

He said: “The fact it appears under my name compounds the problem. If he wants to continue with the campaign he should do it under true colours.”

Asked why Dr Fredrics had been sacked, he cited an extremely poor working relationships with university lecturers, with 11 complaining about Dr Fredrics.

A consultant hired to investigate Dr Fredrics’ appeal concluded he was responsible for the breakdown in relationships, he said.

After retiring for a short break to make a decision, Judith Jewell, chairman of the bench, said: “We find Dr Howard Fredrics guilty of harassment.

“We believe the course of conduct he pursued in setting up this website was intended to harass Sir Peter Scott.

“We further believe that as an educated man of good character he ought to have known that such actions would amount to harassment.”

Jonathan Shepherd, prosecuting the case, referring to the legal battle waged by Dr Fredrics, said: “There’s an expression in my profession called litigation-itis. I suggest to you this is a case of litigation-itis. It is oddly common in the middle classes.

“This is a ruse mam. He has a right of appeal to the crown court, which I suspect is where this case is heading."

Dr Fredrics has 21 days to appeal from the date of his sentence, likely to be a community punishment with an attempt by prosecutors to put a restraining order against the website.

A connected charge of threatening and abusive behaviour against Dr Fredrics in Wood Street, Kingston, on July 23, 2009, was also delayed today, due to the ill health of a witness - Dr Fredrics’ wife Lori.

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