University of Liverpool EU law lecturer’s incredible out-of-office email response in wake of Brexit abuse

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Exclusive: Professor Michael Dougan went viral earlier this month after a video backing Remain campaign amassed almost seven million views


A University of Liverpool EU law professor has produced an incredible out-of-office email response after receiving a number of abusive messages from Brexit supporters.

Professor Michael Dougan (pictured above) — an EU legal expert specialising in constitutional law — made headlines earlier this month after a video (embedded below) of him explaining the potential consequences of Brexit went viral.

The Cambridge-educated prof gave a 30-minute talk at Liverpool’s Law School in the run-up to the historic referendum that was viewed by almost seven million Facebook users.

Since then it would appear the top EU expert has been the subject of abuse from those who didn’t agree with his position on Brexit.

In an astonishing out-of-office email response (pictured below), the legal academic reveals that he’s been accused of being “paid by the European Commission” and having his “snout in the EU trough”.


The email also suggests that Dougan — who is originally from Northern Ireland — has received messages calling for his deportation. The Liverpool-based law lecturer politely asks his abusers “not be offended if I do not treat replying to your message as a priority.”

Speaking to Legal Cheek, Dougan — who has since changed his auto-response — said:

I’ve now updated it to reflect the fact that: a) I simply can’t deal with the vast numbers of emails from frightened and angry people which are now arriving by the hour; and b) since Friday, the racist messages have starting coming in larger numbers too, along the lines of “fuck off back to paddyland you fucking IRA c***”. Charming. I do hope Nigel Farage, Michael Gove, Boris Johnson and Gisela Stuart feel very proud of themselves and of what they have done to our country.

Despite Dougan’s viral video, the UK voted to leave the EU in a historic referendum late last week with a margin of 52% to 48%. As a result, Dougan is likely to be a man in demand, as British politicians and lawyers try to work out how we go about cutting ties with Europe.

Watch Professor Michael Dougan’s video in full below:



Had the pleasure of being lectured by this man in first and second year of undergraduate: he’s outstanding.



Same here, absolutely incredible lecturer that takes a complicated topic and shows you the way to understand it whilst not spoon feeding you or making you feel like an idiot.



Brilliant explanation on the effects to the nation 10/10

Pity it was shown on all the media in its entreaty before the vote



It wasn’t shown across all media, either in its entirety or at all.



This man was the reason I got a first in EU Law


Mary Parr

Love him to bits XXX xxx XXXXXX



sadly , the Theresa may/Boris Johnson racist idiots don’t care at all about the intellectual development of the UK . In other words, the more idiots, the better.



This guy is amazing, truly a fantastic lecturer, great bloke, though an odd obsession with Foie gras



loool, ‘its to die for- gorgeous!’



Attended his EU classes during my degree and he’s a very humble man who gave outstanding lecture and a nice man! Hope things go well on him!



EU Law is taught as an elective in universities across the world. UK universities will probably continue teaching it as an elective post-Brexit. The EU Law professors will have jobs regardless of the outcome.



Well, quite. Before the referendum he said something like “if Brexit goes ahead, I will have years of work” and noted that his services will be in incredibly high demand. There aren’t too many academics in the UK who are equipped to advise on the huge changes of constitutional law that Brexit will require, and he’s one of them. From that perspective Brexit has made him invaluable. His workload and position are secured. His job will be fine. Nobody is actually arguing that, least of all him. He explicitly stated this.

However, I ALSO hope things go well on him because receiving threats and abuse is an awful experience? Even if they don’t lead to violence? Which… they sometimes do…? And the person upthread is allowed to hope that someone who guided their degree has a safe future?



Go well “for” him.



He’s dedicated his life to this area of research and teaching. His achievements speak volumes for his and he doesn’t deserve to take stick off people for not seeing his point of view even though he will know more about the system than a number of leave voters. He is still highly credible and I wish him all the best, top bloke.



I wish that 46 millions had listened to his lecture before voting. I tried to pass it round on my Facebook, but of course most of my friends and family are intelligent people who already had seen ‘the light’ and realised that his conclusion to the lecture was that there was nothing to gain by leaving the EU and everything to loose although his simple conclusion was that it would be a paradise for the top legal brains for years and years to come, dealing with legislation that had taken 40 years already and counting within the EU on legal framework for the free market. I had not imagined that the Brexit effect would lead to instant xenophobia and racism as we have now seen. Makes me fearful of the future when the poor get poorer and they voted for it themselves. The problem lies not in the EU, but within the structure of the UK, with its private schools, Eton boys running the government and totally incapable of structuring plans to have a plan for the UK economy that includes the whole country – not just London and a few more prosperous cities up North.


Martin Castellan

17 million of them wouldn’t have understood a thing. They were told what would happen but nevertheless voted Leave. Many come from that part of society least able to adapt to major economic change. Some live in areas heavily dependent on EU investment. Already Cornwall and Yorkshire are asking where the money will come from.



Are you for real? Do you actually hear yourself? It’s exactly this kind of intellectual arrogance that has caused the rift in our society.


Troyte Nimgarden

How? How is that intellectual arrogance?

Not Amused

Could I just quietly point out that I voted leave and that so did several other barristers and solicitors I know.

It is a great thing for young people to have opinions. But it is not a great thing for young people to assume that there is only one opinion and that their opinion is therefore best.

Do not assume all Leave voters were racists or idiots. I know that is what the Remain campaign kept saying. I know that is what they keep saying. But it is not true and you will harm yourselves if you blithely assume it to be true.



“Do not assume all Leave voters were racists or idiots”

The problem with this statement is that it presumes the ‘Remainers’ feel as though all those voting Leave were racists or idiots. This is not true, however, clearly it was just the vast majority.


“…even though he will know more about the system than a number of leave voters”

In fairness, given the present omnishambles, he clearly knows far more about the system than the Leave Campaign ever did.


Scouser of Counsel

Top bloke- also had the pleasure of being taught by him.

Incredible brain and brilliant lecturer but down-to-earth and humorous with it.



Why oh why didn’t David Cameron have this expert man in the forefront of his team!


Tamara Hervey

Because no one in power – in government, or in the media – was interested in experts



I was thinking that too… the remain campaign really didn’t focus on the right things 🙁
Although so many people that wanted to leave could not have been dissuaded by any force on earth 🙁



Experts, eh! What do they know?



More than non-experts.


Pete Helliwell

Prof Dougan didn’t change my vote at all, merely added a dimension I don’t think most people had accounted for, and on which he clearly has considerable professional expertise. I hope that he forwards every offensive email to the appropriate authorities so those people can be prosecuted as they deserve; he’s probably above such things, but really such disgraceful behaviour deserves to be suitably punished, no less than the appalling racist attacks on the Manchester tram today. The people sending those communications probably aren’t well informed enough to be aware that they are committing a crime in doing what they have done, which is a sad reflection on the anti-intellectual fervour sweeping our country since last week, repeated in the EU parliament this week by the worst of all representatives of the UK, who stole the money of the people who voted him into the European parliament so he could take the wage and fail to discharge his duties like the shyster he is, made himself even more of a laughing stock than he was before, and pretty much scuppered any hope we may have had that Europe would cut us a decent deal. Nice one, Nigel.

Michael, if you read these posts, I really hope you understand that we who think, really appreciate your work, and hope the police work on your behalf to punish the miscreants.



Similarly, the frustrated Remainiacs who say that old people should just die and that they should not be allowed to vote need to understand that their comments are equally hateful.

Hate is hate and intolerance is intolerance, irrespective of the target.


Former student

I’d totally bang him, no homo.



A very misleadìng presentation of the facts by someone who has clearly much to lose. e.g.
1. we don’t need special trade agreements to continue trading.
2 EU legal supremacy or primacy predominates in the U.K. legal system, a good example of this is the governments inability to repatriate foreign crimials, the E.C.J. also claims primacy on member states constitutional law.
The arguement that he makes about our legal sovereignty is a philosophical one, because we “grant” sovereign power to the E.U. by our continued membership of the E.U.
So although he is not telling lies he is trying to disguise the truth. Gisela Stuart the leading “Brexit” campaigner also an E.U. law expert (who was appointed by Tony Blair to represent Britain on the comittee that actually drafted the E.U. constitutional treaty) say’s that we have to leave the E.U. to regain control because of this line in the treaty :-
Article I-6
Union law
“The Constitution and law adopted by the institutions of the Union in exercising competences conferred on it shall have primacy over the law of the Member States”.
That line is the one that counts in reality.


Dickson Poon

U wat bro?



why didn’t you say in the first place??
S’ok folks, it’s all sorted, chill,
/ \ they got dis / \



Well said.

Economic unity is what the core strength of the EU was. That is now in doubt.

Political and legal centralisation under an EU bannr is a massively unnecessary step, and violates UK people’s ability to vote in / influence policies that directly affect them (extremely unfair).

Fairness and reasonableness is what is required. Political and legal centralisation under the EU is unfair and unreasonable.



And yet thanks to Boris and Nigel we will have still have to pay for that common market access, accept free movement of EU labour, comply with all regulations BUT 1)Lose our premium opt outs and veto rights 2) Lose the possibility of directing the EU which we have done as part of the big three since the mid 70s (in fact we will have no say at all) and 3) be ragrded by all our neighbours with the sort of disdain previously awarded only to the likes of Berlusconi. In short, at best we will have a worse deal than before and less power at the expense of an increase in “theoretical” sovereignty. Well played! Oh, but of course there is also the risk that we will be reduced to only WTO trading status which, apart from much worse terms than the EU common market for goods, is almost useless for SERVICES which are our biggest conribution since we burned out manufacturing. I hear 75k banking jobs are to go just this week. So yeah, of course we will trade without the EU, but on much worse terms and for what? Norway is out of the EU but pays, complies and has open EU immigration with ZERO INFLUENCE IN THE EU. Do you think Norwegians give a shit about some nebulous idea of sovereignty or would they have paid to be in the position we were in? LEADING, influencing and shaping the EU for the exact same price as them?



So you are challenging the leading expert in EU law, and neither can you spell nor understand the meaning of the word ‘primacy’? And we don’t need a special trade agreement? Well that’s true, we don’t need one if we don’t want to trade or we just have to comply with the EU trade rules. Anyway we don’t dictate that, the other 27 member states do, all of whom have a veto. Think I’ll stick with Prof. Dougan’s view.



This comment is in stark contrast to what the EU are saying … IE if we want to trade we will have to agree to freedom of Movement… THIS will of course piss every idiot off that voted leave to stop” THEM” coming… who ever THEM is !


John Local

Are you in some parallel universe?

Let’s also make sure we get our facts straight: “Gisela Stuart the leading “Brexit” campaigner also an E.U. law expert ”

She graduated from the University of London with an LLB in 1993. She began researching for a PhD in trust law (ownership of pension funds) at the University of Birmingham, but did not complete her PhD and instead went into politics full-time



Law is a big topic. I am an engineer, a UK level expert on niche topics but know fuck all about thermodynamics. This guy has spent most of his life studying this area of law.



Who’s trying to disguise the truth? The line you quote is from the TCE, which was rejected and replaced by the Treaty of Lisbon, from which the UK has an opt-out clause relating to justice and home affairs. In reality your line doesn’t count at all.



‘Political and legal centralisation under an EU bannr is a massively unnecessary step, and violates UK people’s ability to vote in / influence policies that directly affect them (extremely unfair).’

If you understood anything about the way laws are instituted within the EU, you would know that this is patently inaccurate in every way.



Gisela Stuart an EU Law expert ?




That’ll be the treaty that was rejected in 2004 😉


Last Hussar

Your Bona Fides please. I assume you have some relevant qualifications.



really hard to take this supposedly erudite comment seriously considering you’re yet to master the apostrophe …



He’s got a cheek trying to inform the public about the colossal consequences of a monumental decison they are about to take. How dare he try and dismiss scaremongering from the daily mail, how can I be ignorant now?



Outstanding colleague. The kind of expert who needs to be heard. A brave man, too.



Why Cameron employ him to deliver a message he couldn’t is incomprehensible.



It probably wouldn’t have made a difference. An important revelation of the Brexit vote is that social elites are being ignored by the masses. The increasing inequity between rich and poor, and the stagnation of the middle class is yielding a rise of disenfranchised people who are not interested in what the leaders and experts have to say.


Dickson Poon

Yep, and they’ll fuck themselves even more by referenda like this. Top banter.



And history teaches us that always ends in disaster. Whether Soviet or Nazi, it’s always been bad news. Ironically, that’s what the EU started out to do, protect the people of Europe from the kind of trouble had occurs when the electorate follow an inspiring, convincing person with a simple message.



True Mike, and lost on both many Leave and Remain voters. Effectively the disenfranchised are levelling the playing field, by dragging everyone down to their level.


Laurence M. Hazlewood

Neither are they interested in truth, facts, history, geo-politics, the burgeoning threats amassing East of the Polota River in Belarus, the adventurism of the PRC in the Pacific the rise of nationalism in countries all across the globe. They are not interested in the futures of their children and grandchildren. They would’t know reality if it smacked them across the face with a wet haddock.



An excellent lecture based on facts and not media headlines. `Decisions are made by those who are there`. Do the leavers really believe that we will now have so much extra money that many of our big problems can be so easily resolved ? I hope that their big new hospitals will have large wings to deal with patients suffering from acute delusions.


john smith

Learnt a lot and recommend it to others wishing to understand EU law . . .



I have no connection in any way whatsoever with Prof. Dougan, I nver heard of him until I watched his Youtube video last week which I thought was very informative.
No one deserves to have hate mail sent to them.



Had the pleasure of being taught and even more so the honour of Mr Dougan oversea my dissertation on the freedom of movement of footballers to the UK when no other professor would even entertain my desire.

A topic very appropriate to much of the debate all I can say is for him to have to answer to others who have no understanding of the specifics or the detail is degrading. Let alone a complete waste of time for one of the only people who was brave enough to speak for both sides of the debate and shed more light in 30 minutes than others did over 3 months of campaigns

We should be honouring this man for is commitment not to the EU but to the UK and his students of which I know for a fact will now be the ones challenged with sorting the mess caused by the masses the misinformed and those who are just ignorant.

Shame on those wasting a professionals time.


Christopher Murphy

Would anybody happen to know when the article analyzing the implications and processes of withdrawal mentioned in the speech is due to be published. Clarity on the issues is proving as hard to come by as a political leader with a mandate.



See the website of the U.K. Constitutional Law Association, excellent blogs and information.


Julian Thould

Many thanks for a lecture of outstanding clarity but with a very depressing scenario for our future. I am fortunate to have dual nationality and can live and work elsewhere, as can my children. I have advised them now to leave England behind them (not Scotland or Ireland), recognise that the country of their birth is likely to descend into poverty, economic and social dysfunction and very likely political anarchy and cut their losses.

It disturbs me deeply that we will have to do this but I think that the situation is now irrevocable and a major crisis on the scale of that which overtook Germany in the 1920’s is very likely. Political disintegration with the rise of extreme politics on the right and left is an almost inevitable consequence. It is utterly tragic to think of future historians studying with much astonishment the collapse of a major western society in a matter of a few years with English refugees cluttering up the ports of continental Europe as they flee authoritarian government and possible civic unrest.

The blame for this rests with a number of institutions, mismanaged social trends and some shockingly tawdry and corrupt individuals. However, the toxic state of the Conservative Party, its astonishing ideologically obsessive behaviour and weak and inept leadership must take much of the blame. Nigel Farage, weird creature that he is, will be much commented on in future history but the responsibility for allowing him such influence lies with an over mighty, prejudiced and extraordinarily compliant media and a Conservative Party unable to meet the challenge without a policy of appeasement and concession.

In my view we are seeing the beginnings of the final stages of English imperial decline. The impact will be felt throughout Europe and beyond but the worst of it will be here with our own people. They have been appallingly badly served by their leaders. Many will be utterly impoverished and, very unfortunately, a substantial number may die in civil unrest or as a result of the inevitable cuts in social and medical care. The rich will continue to live very comfortably.

It is time to go when you can. As an Australian national born in the UK and a qualified and experienced professional I have choices; many, far too many, do not. Farewell England, a new Dark Age begins.


Annette Morris

Very well put.



…as the Footsie rises above pre-referendum levels.



Check the FTSE 250 and the strength of the pound. More to the point, check them when the ink hits the paper on article 50…



Lol the doom and gloom is strong with this one! I feel for your poor family that must put up with such ill thought out nonsense!



I don’t think this is the place to trade insults. There has been more than enough of that in the referendum debate over the past three months. However, I’d be interested to hear your arguments in response to my note rather than a simple denial that the situation we face is so very serious. Consider the options open to us.

1. We end up leaving the single market and prevent the free movement of people. Likely consequence: a period (a decade, longer?) of serious economic disruption within the UK with perhaps a decline of between 6 and 10% in our GDP, the rapid decline of our tax base and the consequent decline in the scope and quality of our public services, the near certainty of the departure of Scotland from the Union and perhaps Northern Ireland and the rapid shrinking of our principal diplomatic alliances (particularly the USA as it switches to Germany) and the corresponding loss of international influence. All of this spells a significant rise in unemployment and a serious decline in the standard of living. Many of those amongst the poor, particularly those who voted to leave the EU, will suffer and will feel betrayed by ‘the establishment’. Those on the extremes of the right and left, to use crude terms, will exploit such misery and the result is unlikely to be pretty. The experience of Weimar Germany after 1929 is very instructive as is that of Italy after 1918 but you might also consider the recent experience of Russia after 1989 or that of Venezuela today.
2. We opt for a ‘Norway’ solution, even supposing that this is on the table. The impact on economic activity of market instability during the period of negotiation still shrinks growth and many amongst the poor, so many of whom voted to leave as a form of protest vote, feel that they have been ignored by the political elite. Worse, the freedom of movement of people required as a quid pro quo of access to the single market and the need to pay a hefty premium to the EU are exploited by the right wing press and extreme politicians such as Farage as a ‘betrayal’ of the result, narrow as it was, of the referendum. The consequence is further polarisation of our politics with possibly very dangerous consequences as well as growing diplomatic isolation and the likely departure of Scotland from the Union that will almost certainly follow whatever we now do with all of the consequences noted above under option 1.

So, Mr or Ms Anonymous, I’d be interested to see a rational response to the above rather than a flat denial, salted with insult, without putting your views to the test. Still feeling optimistic?



My mother voted Leave and while I am furious at her, I was thrilled when she agreed to watch Professor Dougan’s talk. She thought he was excellent, even if in the end she still voted to Leave. While this anti-expert rubbish going on is not only scary for what it says about our country, I would note that if only more of our experts were as clear and succinct as him, maybe it would be easier to get rid of this idea that all experts are bad…. (or maybe not!)


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