AC Grayling, the philosopher who has sparked protests with his proposed £18,000-a-year New College for the Humanities, has resigned as President of the British Humanist Association before even taking office. He was due to take over from Guardian coumnist Polly Toynbee on the 1st of July.

In a message to BHA members earlier today, Professor Grayling said “controversy generated by [his] activities in another area” was behind the decision:

It was an honour to be named President of the British Humanist Association and I very much looked forward to working alongside the staff and trustees over the next two years to promote Humanism – a vitally important task in today’s world. Unfortunately, I believe that controversy generated by activities in another area of my public life will make it difficult in the next two years for me to be the sort of President that I would like to be for the BHA and all its members and supporters. In deciding to stand down and let the Trustees of the BHA appoint an alternative President, I wish them all the best in their important task.

Common People is campaigning against the New College of the Humanities by asking Richard Dawkins to withdraw from the project. You can join them in writing to Prof Dawkins here.