Edinburgh University gym boss fired over ‘abhorrent’ WhatsApp rape message

A gym boss who was accused of sending a text message suggesting a female client who failed to show up for a class should be “raped” has been sacked.
Gym boss Ross BrainGym boss Ross Brain
Gym boss Ross Brain

Emails seen by the Evening News state that Edinburgh University’s Sport and Exercise club’s senior instructor Ross Brain was dismissed today (April 24).

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Edinburgh University gym boss accused of sending abhorrent ‘rape’ WhatsApp messa...

His dismissal follows outrage from the student community with more than 800 students signing an open letter to principal and vice-chancellor Peter Mathieson demanding Mr Brain’s sacking.

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A University of Edinburgh spokesman said the language purportedly used by Mr Brain was “abhorrent” but did not comment on the outcome of the disciplinary process.

Mr Brain was accused of sending a message in a WhatsApp group saying: “Lets rape her. Or give her the choice of 600 burpees or rape” while discussing potential forfeits to be imposed on a woman who had signed up to a six-week exercise course but had failed to show that morning.

The email, from the Director of Sport and Exercise Jim Aitken, states: “the official investigation has concluded and that Ross Brain has been dismissed from his post as Gym Manager with immediate effect.”

However, in another email seen by the Evening News sent on Monday, 22 April, Mr Aitken states an investigation had concluded last week.

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An open letter, signed by more than 800 University of Edinburgh students and alumni was sent to Peter Mathieson today (24 April).

Students who signed the letter criticised the initial disciplinary procedure in January and said action should have been taken against Mr Brain then.

The letter states students and staff across the University felt “unwelcome, unsafe and unsatisfied” due to the University’s disciplinary process following reports of Mr Brain’s alleged conduct in January.

It also calls on the University to create new disciplinary procedures which have a zero-tolerance policy against harassment alongside students and staff.

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One of the organisers, Rosie Taylor, 21, a second year Biological Sciences student, criticised the University’s lack of transparency and speed of response to the allegations.

She said: “This issue is not limited to one individual, or one message, it is a systemic failure to create, implement and uphold transparent or truly zero-tolerance policies to sexual harassment and violence.

“This case, which began in January, should not have required student intervention in order to reach a satisfactory conclusion. Whilst the University of Edinburgh is loud and proud in appearing to support the #NoExcuse campaign, this has not been translated to action.”

A University of Edinburgh spokesman said: “We are aware of the letter and are engaging with student representatives on the matter.

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“We want to assure our students and staff that we take incidents such as this very seriously – the use of such language is abhorrent and has no place in this University.

“We do not, however, comment on the detail or outcome of individual cases.”

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