Professor launches legal action following claims she lost Arts Society accreditation after calling Meghan Markle ‘the dreaded Meghan’

Dr Anne Anderson also said some media commentators were of "colour disposition" during an online lecture

Published Last updated

A professor has launched legal action following claims she lost her accreditation after referring to Meghan Markle as “the dreaded Meghan”.

Dr Anne Anderson, an honorary professor at Exeter University, also said that some media personnel were of “colourful disposition” – a claim which later formed the crux of the complaints.

But after losing her accredited lecturer status last May, Dr Anderson is now taking the Arts Society to the High Court.

Dr Anne Anderson described Meghan Markle as "the dreaded Meghan"
Dr Anne Anderson described Meghan Markle as "the dreaded Meghan"
The comments were made days before Meghan and Prince Harry spoke to Oprah Winfrey
The comments were made days before Meghan and Prince Harry spoke to Oprah Winfrey

She claims her removal breached her contract with the society.

Her comments about Meghan were made during an online lecture called: “How we got IKEA: Scandinavian Design 1880-1960."

Throughout the lecture, members discussed Meghan and Prince Harry as it came days after their interview with US TV journalist Oprah Winfrey.

Ms Anderson said: “Oh dear, you couldn't turn the television on without some person of a colourful disposition having a moan about something.”

This sparked offence. Two complaints were made and one attendee of the lecture left.

After the lecture, Ms Anderson's accreditation was suspended pending an investigation.

Ms Anderson later challenged the decision, before the Arts Society panel ruled out the racism allegations and instead described her comments as “inappropriate”.

The society urged her to attend a diversity training course, something the professor declined.

She subsequently lost her accreditation.

Dr Anderson the Daily Mail's Richard Eden: “I have lost three quarters of my income.

“I can’t sleep."

An Arts Society spokesman stood by their decision, calling it “appropriate”, adding: “We're satisfied we acted reasonably and in a measured fashion.”

An Arts Society statement reads: "A serious complaint of racism was made against Dr Anderson. We obviously had a duty to investigate it. We also had a duty, of course, to ensure the process was fair to Dr Anderson. We fulfilled both of those duties.

"The decision to remove Dr Anderson’s accreditation was regrettable but necessary. First, Dr Anderson failed to comply with some of the conditions imposed on her by the complaints panel on 19 April 2021, following the panel’s investigation into an allegation of racism. Secondly, by speaking to the press with an untrue account of the facts and the complaints procedure, she brought The Arts Society into disrepute.

"The decision to remove her accreditation was therefore appropriate in the circumstances.

"We’re a learning organisation, and a broad church of views and interests, and we welcome scrutiny and criticism. But we’re also entitled to act when allegations that are untruthful and unfair are made against us.

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

The statement adds: "We can well understand that this has been a distressing time for Dr Anderson, and we’re sorry to hear her sleep has been affected. But it’s difficult to see what we could have done differently. We would have liked to avoid this outcome, but we’re satisfied we acted reasonably and in a measured fashion.

"A subsequent review carried out by Board members (who were not involved with The Arts Society at the time the complaints were made) has looked into the way we handled this matter and concluded that we acted properly."