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Internal News - 03 May 2007

Request for the leader of the BNP to speak at a private meeting on campus

A message from Mark Humphriss, University Secretary:

I have received a request for permission for Mr Nick Griffin, leader of the British National Party, to speak at the University on 14 May. Such requests fall to me, as the University’s designated officer, to consider within the terms of our Code of Practice relating to meetings on University Premises and Freedom of Speech.

Like many Universities, this University believes in encouraging freedom of speech from a wide range of political opinion. The code sets out that,

“So far as is reasonably practicable, no premises of the University shall be denied to any individual or body of persons on any grounds connected with:

(a) the beliefs or views of that individual or of that body; or
(b) the policy or objectives of that body.”

It will be seen that it is not my role to take account of the views of the BNP in considering this request. My concern has to be with public order and that such an event does not transgress the boundaries of lawful speech. Having discussed the position with the Head of Security and having sought and received appropriate reassurances from the event organiser and having consulted the Students' Union President and others within the University, I have determined that the event may take place, subject to a number of conditions being met. Access will, however, be restricted to staff and students of the University and Security staff will be present to ensure that only those with valid University of Bath library cards are admitted.

I realise from the contact that has been made with me in recent days that this decision will be unwelcome to many on campus. I would, however, emphasise that such decisions do not imply any endorsement by the University of a particular organisation’s views but an outworking of the University’s principles of freedom of speech. Staff or students who decide to voice their objection to the BNP, as some have indicated they will, are reminded that they must do so peacefully.

Mark Humphriss, University Secretary, 3 May 2007

• The event organiser is Danny Lake