An Isle of Wight Councillor who gave up a position in the Cabinet earlier this year to complete the final stages of a postgraduate course has passed “with merit”.

Councillor Chris Whitehouse (Conservative, Newport West Ward) stood down as Lead Member for Children’s Services to enable him to write his 15,000 word dissertation as the final stage of his study for a Master of Arts in Contemporary Ethics at London’s 400-year-old specialist philosophy college, Heythrop College.

Speaking today Councillor Whitehouse, who has now taken up a position as Secretary to the Cabinet on the Council, says: “Never having had a first degree, it was always going to be a challenge to study at post-graduate level. I’m as surprised as I am delighted that I didn’t just pass, but did so ‘with merit’ overall and even ‘with distinction’ in one of the five modules, Bioethics and Sexual Ethics.”

Cllr Whitehouse also took the opportunity to encourage others to consider going back for further studies, adding: “It’s never too late to learn. We live in an age where the internet, email and improved transport networks open up so many new opportunities for those who want to improve their skills or challenge their minds. Some of the most useful learning resources to which I had access were free videos of lectures posted online by one of the best universities in America, Harvard, and I was able to watch them here on the Island.”

The dissertation submitted by Cllr Whitehouse was on Discrimination Against the Disabled in the Abortion Law of England, Scotland and Wales, which, says Cllr Whitehouse, “permits abortion up until the moment of birth for disabled babies with even the most minor handicaps such as club foot or hare lip; but for healthy babies the general limit for abortion is 24 weeks. This is blatant discrimination against the disabled which should have no place in a civilised society.”

The degree certificate will be formally presented at a graduation ceremony in London in December.