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Press Release - 10 May 2007

University refuses permission for a student-organised event to be addressed by Mr Nick Griffin to go ahead

A statement from the Vice-Chancellor and the University Secretary :

The University took the decision on 3 May, under its Code of Practice relating to Meetings on University Premises, that one of its students might organise an event on 14 May to be addressed by Mr Nick Griffin, Leader of the British National Party. This was subject to certain conditions being met by the student organiser, and to the University continuing to be satisfied that the event would not present significant public order issues or transgress the boundaries of lawful speech.

Not surprisingly, a very substantial number of people, within and beyond the University, have expressed their views about the proposed event over the past few days. Many of these have argued passionately against the event taking place, but a substantial minority have argued strongly in favour of it proceeding. Notably, as well as strong opposition from some of the University’s staff, the Students’ Union has voted to ask the University to refuse permission for the event. In addition, some staff and students have registered with us their serious concerns for their safety if this event proceeds, as well as fears of disruption to examinations given the likely scale of protests on the day.

These considerations do need to be balanced against the need to hear and challenge a variety of opinions in an institution committed to high quality learning and research. Freedom of speech is a principle to be highly cherished by academic institutions. Indeed, our regulations require that the University does not so far as is reasonably practicable deny any premises of the University to any individual or body of persons on any grounds connected with the beliefs or views of that individual or of that body; or the policy or objectives of that body. The University has, however, now learned that a very large number of protesters intend to arrive on campus. This creates the likelihood of substantial public order problems and real possibility of disruption of the essential activities of the University community, making it impractical for the University to allow the event to go ahead.

In the light of all these considerations the University has decided to refuse permission for the event to take place.

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