AN ACADEMIC who led the fight against Oxford giving Baroness Margaret Thatcher an honorary degree in the 1980s last night said he wouldn’t be opposing Wafic Said’s plan to name a new building in honour of the former premier.

Mr Said hopes to call the new facility at Oxford University’s Said Business School the Thatcher Building, 27 years after a controversial decision to withdraw the plan to give Mrs Thatcher, as she was, a degree in 1985.

Friends and even political foes of Baroness Thatcher maintain that the university harmed its reputation more than a quarter of a century ago by spurning the Iron Lady. But news that one of the university’s biggest donors intends to name a new business building after her is threatening to spark a second anti-Thatcher revolt at Oxford University.

There have been reports that some academics would force a vote of all 3,000 dons if the proposal went ahead.

But Prof Denis Noble, the Oxford scientist who led the opposition in the ’80s, will not be among those fighting the plan.

He told the Oxford Mail that circumstances were different and there was no reason why a building in Oxford should not be named after Britain’s only female prime minister.

Prof Noble, 75, Emeritus Professor of Cardiovascular Physiology, said: “I see no problem with this. I also saw no problem in Somerville College naming its conference Centre after Baroness Thatcher. The problem in the mid-1980s was the Government’s policies towards education and science.”

However, Bernard Sufrin, an Emeritus Fellow of Worcester College, who lectures in computer science, said he believed it was “inconceivable” that the university parliament, the Congregation, would accede to the naming.

He said: “I hope that those responsible for naming the building will take advice from those – now retired – leading members of the university who oversaw the embarrassing fiasco of an honorary degree for Mrs Thatcher being semi-publicly proposed, only to be rejected by a large majority of Congregation.

“We are living at a time when the damage that will be done to our tertiary education system by the self-proclaimed political heirs of Mrs Thatcher promises to be even more severe than the damage to which Congregation was then responding.”

Only 20 signatures from objectors on the Congregation would be enough to trigger a ballot, in which 3,000 academics would be eligible to vote.

Mr Said, who has given £15m towards the new facility at the Said Business School, has described Baroness Thatcher as “a lioness”.