The notion that Britain would not have overreacted to a 9/11 in their own country like the US apparently did is being peddled by the Irish-born, new Oxford University Vice Chancellor Professor, Louise Richardson.

It is poppycock, as the Brits say. Professor Richardson, Waterford-born, is the first woman in 800 years to become head of Oxford. She can surely do better than this.

She cites British reaction to the IRA campaign in Northern Ireland in which she appears to believe it was conducted under Marquis of Queensbury rules by legal and military authorities when dealing with the Troubles.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The Northern Troubles almost fatally undermined British justice with kangaroo courts such as those that convicted the Birmingham Six and Guildford Four, non-jury trials, shoot-to-kill, rules of evidence changed, evidence destroyed and – worst of all – killers set loose as government informants.

No less an authority than former police ombudsman, baroness Nuala O’Loan, has said that the British military allowed “serial killers” – her term – to operate with impunity in order to try and stop the IRA.

She would have been referring to Robert Jackson, the Mid Ulster Jackal who allegedly killed at least fifty people, some claim he killed twice that number, in the Dublin bombings of 1974 and the slaughter of the members of the Miami Showband.

Yet Jackson was never convicted of a crime. Then there was the wholesale cover up and blackening of the name of John Stalker, the top British cop sent to investigate shoot-to-kill allegations, after he bravely revealed that wholesale murder and mayhem was being carried out in the name of law and order.

Should we also discuss Pat Finucane, the Bloody Sunday cover-up etc, etc, or have we made the point that when it came to overreaction the British had few peers?

They were determined to destroy the village to save it, as the recent "Panorama" BBC TV show “Britain's Secret Terror Deals Revealed” showed with stark clarity.

Indeed, that show highlighted one case where the RUC Special Branch sacrificed one of their own fellow cops. Female policewoman Colleen McCullough was killed by an IRA bomb manufactured in part by one of their informers, who told them the attack was about to happen.

They did nothing to prevent the young officer’s murder, preferring to keep the informer in place.

So I’m not sure what Professor Richardson is saying. She is described as an expert on international terror, but her premise sure seems very flawed.

Was there an American over reaction? Certainly the invasion of Iraq has proven to be an utter disaster.

Would the British have reacted any better given how they operated in the North?

The evidence is clear on that too.

The answer is no.

Louise Richardson appointed Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford.University of Oxford /Alan Richardson