Prof Percy has denied ever saying this. He has admitted to complimenting Miss Jeune on her hair, but denied ever touching it, claiming he was putting in eye drops at the time.
Thirty minutes after the incident, Miss Jenue told the Rev Clare Hayns, the college chaplain, what had allegedly happened and reported it to the university authorities, prompting the dean to step down pending another investigation.
The college commissioned Kate Wood, a former police officer to carry out the investigation. She interviewed both parties and, in her final report, described Miss Jeune’s account as “credible, detailed and true”, prompting Christ Church to proceed to tribunal.
Miss Jeune went on to report the incident to the police when she discovered that Prof Percy had denied it to investigators.
Yet it did not bring closure. By now, “Miss X” had become a subject of discussion among his supporters, who variously described her in anonymous source quotes to the press and in blogs as “a side issue” and “irrelevant” and “an illegal immigrant”.
(In reality, her visa, which was signed by Prof Percy, runs out this September, when she plans to return to New Zealand.)
Prof Percy’s claim that he was suffering from mental health issues delayed the tribunal process to such an extent that Miss Jeune had to give up on her PhD.
“I kept on having to ask for more time so I was given an ultimatum,” she said.
“My university said, you either come back to New Zealand and finish it or we withdraw you. I couldn’t easily fly back because of Covid, and I was committed to seeing this through, so I lost my lifelong ambition to become a professor.”
Unearthing her side of the story
After a 10-day mediation, the pair finally reached a settlement in February, which saw both awarded compensation and Prof Percy step down from the role. However, his recent interview has prompted Miss Jeune to finally speak out.
“Does he honestly think that I would have allowed anyone to rewrite my experience and talk it up?
“It was completely shattering to see so many people support him without knowing all of the facts. I haven’t yet been able to forgive the group of supporters who admitted they got together to ‘plot’.
“But the other people, like those who supported his GoFundMe page without hearing the other side of the story, I feel sorry for them because they’ve been manipulated.”