Edinburgh University to review ‘secretive society’

Picture: Ian Rutherford
Picture: Ian Rutherford
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EDINBURGH University is to review its 250-year relationship with a secretive society said to include members of the Scottish judiciary.

Founded in 1764, the men-only Speculative Society counts Robert Louis Stevenson and Sir Walter Scott among its past members.

The “Spec” meets in rooms at Old College, where the university’s law school is based.

Following an investigation by the Student newspaper into the group’s use of Old College, the university is to examine its links with the society.

In a statement, it said: “The university is strongly committed to equality of opportunity for all its staff and students and is intent on promoting a positive culture for all members of the institution. Our policies and procedures are regularly reviewed and the university intends to initiate a review of its historic relationship with the Speculative Society.”

In 2003, Skye Bridge protester Robbie the Pict objected to judges he claimed were members of the Speculative Society hearing his appeal against a conviction for refusing to pay the toll.

Supporters of the Spec insist it is “a debating society, no more and no less”. Stacey Devine, from the National Union of Students, told the newspaper: “We’d hope Edinburgh University management would be investigating [what] this society is and what benefits [it] receives. If there’s any sign of discrimination we’d fully expect the university to not allow it on their premises, or in their name.”

Edinburgh Central MSP Marco Biagi added: “People should be free to socialise in whatever groups they like, but the university has to consider whether they want to be seen to be giving an all-male group such as this a privileged position in university property.”