Five students suspended following a protest have had their ban lifted after a huge campaign.

University staff members lent their support to the plight of five University of Sussex students who claim they have been disciplined for simply staging a protest at the university's Falmer campus.

But the university claims it received reports of intimidation of staff, violence, damage and theft.

Today the suspension was lifted by the University amid pleas from faculty staff and students at the Falmer campus.

In a letter to The Argus, the group of professors, members of faculty, non-academic staff, associate tutors and doctoral candidates said: “This action is a disproportionate response to the alleged offences, an overreaction to student activism, a threat to the right to protest and further signals a major deterioration in campus relations.

“Wittingly or not, it not only harms the prospects of the students in question, but also risks bringing the university itself into disrepute.”

A statement from the University of Sussex said: “The University of Sussex has lifted the suspensions and exclusions that were placed on five students on Wednesday.

“The University continues to take forward disciplinary processes in relation to these five students, who were involved in organising or leading the repeated serious disruption of campus through occupations, which have been characterised by intimidating behaviour, theft, damage and violence.

“There have been three disruptive occupations since February 2013. The most recent occupation of the third floor of Bramber House lasted for a week in late November and early December.

“Further disruptive behaviour was reported to have taken place on campus on Tuesday, after the occupation had ended, including the physical blocking of access and the intimidation of people coming on to campus to work and study.”

Vice-Chancellor Professor Michael Farthing said: “These students are subject to proper disciplinary processes and I take the view that the immediate need for the suspensions to remain in force has now passed. I am therefore lifting the suspensions and exclusions with immediate effect.

“We will keep the position under review as the disciplinary processes are taken forward over the coming weeks.”