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Oxford Union elections hit by 'sexism, hacking and blackmail'

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The undergraduates of Oxford University are often seen as the future leaders of this country, but new evidence has shown that their conduct has been far from exemplary.

The campaigns to get elected to the Oxford Union have been marred by allegations of sexism, hacking and blackmail.

Former Secretary-designate of the Union, Cai Wilshaw, resigned just days after being appointed over the allegations.

They come after nine emails were leaked to senior members of the Oxford Union committee.

Taking the form of printed and annotated screenshots, the emails contain three memes of librarian candidate Amelia Hamer accompanied with the text:  "Only girl - comes 4th”, "Vote Amelia – tribbed”, and "gets sponsorship - Prize: BJ.”

Hamer said she “felt personally victimised by the sexist and misogynistic nature of the memes, especially as one of the few women on standing committee at the time.” 

The emails also reveal how Wilshaw sought to "assert a degree of surveillance over the actions of his co-workers.”  An exchange with a correspondent known as ‘A.J’ shows Wilshaw inquiring: “HOW do I get the files of people with Macs?” before subsequently receiving a detailed reply.

It is not clear whether Wilshaw applied the knowledge he gained although he did sign off one email saying ‘I’ll give it a try”.

Since the allegations came to light, Wilshaw has written an open letter to Cherwell, the university’s student newspaper, recounting his side of events.

In it he apologises to the union members for his “immaturity” and admits he had a hand in creating the internet memes saying they were motivated by “a personal (admittedly petty) rivalry with one individual, and not remotely by sexism.”

However he also claims that his laptop was hacked whilst it was supposed to be locked in a union office causing his hard-drive to be wiped. This resulted in him loosing “an entire year of work, along with pictures, music and all my other files.”

The hacker then anonymously blackmailed Cai and his friend in an attempt to stop them running for their positions in the Union.

The row is the latest in a litany of controversies which have beset the elections.

Candidates have complained that at the ballot, they and their friends were jeered by rivals’ supporters, who used “degrading” and “offensive” language, while on election day itself, June 7th, voters claim they were sent text messages and emails from supporters referring to them as “criminals”.

The events led to a total of thirteen official complaints lodged by students, however all have now been dropped.

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