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A “Shameful Start to Shakespeare 400”

By Ida Akerstedt Jan 29, 2016
Richard Wilson

Shakespeare scholar and enthusiast set to do a research fellowship at Kingston University is being deported within days.

Dr Paul Hamilton, who has been running conferences for the Kingston Shakespeare seminar at Rose Theatre, was arrested on January 17 after his Home Office application to stay in the UK was denied.

Dr Andy Higginbottom, KU Associate Professor and Kingston University’s branch of the University and College Union Chair, said: “Kingston University branch of UCU calls for the release of Dr Paul Hamilton and an end to deportation proceedings against him.”

Dr Hamilton, who was in the process of applying to the Welcome Trust and the Leverhulme Trust for a research fellowship to be hosted at Kingston University, was arrested and detained without getting notice of his application being denied.

The US citizen is set to be deported back to the US on February 1.

Dr Hamilton told the Times Higher Education: “All they had to do was serve me papers and say: ‘I’m sorry your application was rejected – you need to leave the country.’ But to be arrested is just unbelievable.”

His friend and frequent Kingston Shakespeare collaborator, Timo Uotinen, has written a statement titled “Shameful Start to Shakespeare 400”, supported by the Kingston University’s branch of UCU.

According to the statement, Dr Hamilton was given two official reasons for the arrest. The first was that removal from the UK was imminent and the second that he does not have enough close ties, meaning family or friends, to make it likely that he will stay in one place.

Dr Hamilton said: “The official reason given was that I don’t have family in the area, which is the position every single international student is in…So if you [as an overseas student] apply for further leave to remain, it means that basically they can just arrest you.”

Dr Hamilton received his PhD from the Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham, in July last year.

The post-study visa that allowed international students to work in the UK for two years after graduation was scrapped by the Government in 2012. Further restrictions were introduced in July 2015.

Uotinen, a PhD student at Royal Holloway, University of London and Dr Hamilton’s friend, said: “All this after spending nearly a decade in the country without any trouble, enriching its research culture by contributing countless hours of unpaid academic work to arranging and assisting in conferences, seminars, and publications.

“With 2016 being the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, these alarming actions perpetrated by UK immigration officials against a Shakespeare scholar starts this year of celebration in a deeply unsettling way.”

Dr Hamilton is currently being held at the Morton Hall Immigration Removal Centre near Lincoln and has to leave the country before February 1.

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