In line with its much-revered reputation, Oxford University has often maintained high levels of discretion over the personal – and, often public – affairs of its alumni.
However, on Wednesday the university took the highly unusual step of issuing a public statement denying that a UKIP candidate at the centre of a sex scandal never attended the university.
Natasha Bolter – a glamorous former Labour politician who defected to UKIP earlier this year – resigned on Tuesday after accusing UKIP General Secretary Roger Bird of sexual harassment.
Mr Bird was subsequently suspended as the party carries out an internal investigation.
Mrs Bolter – a mother of wife whose father is Indian and mother Colombian – was introduced as a PPE (Philosophy, Politics and Economics) graduate at the UKIP conference in September, a piece of information that was republished subsequently in several press articles.
However, on Wednesday, a spokesman for Oxford University said they could not find any evidence that Mrs Bolter – whose maiden name was Ahmed – had ever studied at the university’s Wadham college as she had claimed.
The university’s denial comes hours after Mr Bird insisted he had done nothing wrong and said that, in fact, he and Mrs Bolter had had a “short-lived” but “consensual” relationship.
In an interview with the Sunday Times Mrs Bolter claimed that Mr Bird had taken her to the snooker room at his private member’s club in London and propositioned her on the day she was interviewed as a prospective candidate for UKIP.
Mrs Bolter said she had decided to resign and speak out because she wanted other women to “feel safe”.
On Tuesday Mr Bird reacted furiously to the allegations, and revealed a series of text messages that suggest that the relationship between the two had been more intimate than Mrs Bolter had revealed to the Times.
Speaking on the BBC’s Newsnight programme, Mrs Bolter admitted the pair had exchanged messages but they were not of an intimate nature.
Mr Bird however, disagreed, today revealing several messages that suggested otherwise, including one which said: “I love you and miss you and think you are sort of perfect” and another which read: “I love u bird and wish u let me look after u. Hope u feel better xx.”
Mr Bird, in a statement accompanying the text messages, said: “I have done nothing wrong. I am a single man, she is also single, we are both single people who conducted a consensual relationship outside the office.”
Mrs Bolter meanwhile has steadfastly denied that she had a sexual relationship with Mr Bird, today telling reporters: “I did not sleep with Roger Bird. End of.”
Images courtesy of the Sunday Times.