- 1956-1958 (Creation)
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The University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, Committee of Enquiry, 1956-57, was set up to consider the situation which had arisen at the College following the publication in the Sunday newspaper, The People, in March and April, 1956, of articles based on material supplied by the Principal of the College, Goronwy Rees. These articles described in detail Rees's close association over many years with Guy Burgess, a man who, since that period, had achieved notoriety as a Russian spy and had just made a sensational reappearance in Moscow.
In May 1951, Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean, two British Foreign Office workers, disappeared in mysterious circumstances that suggested political defection to the East. On 11 February 1956 Burgess dramatically reappeared in Moscow. On five consecutive Sundays between 11 March and 8 April 1956 articles on Burgess were published in The People, written anonymously by 'his most intimate friend - a man in high academic position'. The source of the information was soon identified and Principal Goronwy Rees of Aberystwyth was named in the Daily Telegraph, 29 March 1956.
Many members of the College were profoundly disturbed by the course of events and believed strongly that the affair should not be ignored. It looked at one time as if the matter would be quickly resolved by Rees's resignation, but this did not come about. On 20 June the students at Aberystwyth voted in favour of the motion 'that the student body ... would view with extreme concern and alarm any action that would result in the dismissal or resignation of the Principal'. On 29 June 1956, the matter was raised before the College Council where it was narrowly decided that 'no action was required and the matter was now closed'. However, the Treasurer, J. Alban Davies, and Sir Ifan ab Owen Edwards, two prominent members of the Council, had tendered their resignations, and several others signified their intention to do so unless a committee of enquiry were appointed.
A special meeting of the Council was summoned in July 1956. A letter signed by eighteen members of the Senate asking for an independent enquiry had been received. The motion was carried and Rees announced his intention to resign. The Council, however, refused to accept the resignation and asked the Principal to reconsider his decision. Finally, it was decided to ask Sir Keith Murray, Chairman of the University Grants Committee, and Sir Emrys Evans, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Wales, to nominate three persons to serve on the Committee of Enquiry.
The Committee was chaired by the Rt Hon. Henry Willink, Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge. J. W. F. Hill, President of the Council of Nottingham University and W. J. Worboys, Chairman of the Council of Industrial Design, were the other members. G. H. Baxter, recently retired from the post of Assistant Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, was appointed Secretary. The Committee opened its enquiry in October 1956 and presented its findings in February 1957. The Report was 'received' by the Council at its meeting on 15 March 1957, together with a statement from the Principal indicating that he had been unable to accept the Committee's findings. His resignation, which had already been tendered on 11 February, was accepted by the Council.
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