May 10, 2007

University of Bath cancels BNP lecture after student outcry

The University of Bath has this afternoon cancelled a meeting on Monday at which the leader of the British National Party, Nick Griffin, had been invited to speak, for reasons of public safety.

The announcement comes just two days after the university insisted that the meeting should go ahead on the grounds of freedom of speech, following assurances that the event would not threaten public order.

But this afternoon, after a meeting of the university's student union which condemned the BNP and called on the university to cancel the event, the university's vice-chancellor, Professor Glynis Breakwell, and secretary, Mark Humphriss, announced the meeting would not now go ahead.

In a statement they said they had taken into account the views of staff and students about the meeting and the university's belief in freedom of speech.

They said: "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.

"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."

Nick Griffin had been invited to the university to speak next Monday by first-year politics with economics student Danny Lake, 22, the national youth leader of the BNP and a student at Bath.

The event was not planned to boost student recruitment to the BNP, according to Mr Lake, but was an opportunity for students to quiz the party about its policies.

At today's meeting, the student's union said that if the meeting went ahead it would tarnish the "good reputation of the university" and that the presence of Nick Griffin on the campus would "invade the safe space of some of its members". There was also concern that the event, which the union complained had been organised at short notice, was being used as an excuse to recruit BNP student members.

Students were also worried that the evening meeting scheduled to start at 7pm and the planned protest organised by lecturers' union the University and College Union at 5pm would disrupt exams taking place on campus at the time.

The university's student union president, Paul Jaggers, said after the student meeting: "This has been a real victory for student cohesion."

Mr Lake, who spoke at the student meeting, argued that the event should go ahead on the grounds of free speech. He said: "To a certain extent I expected this outcome from the student union meeting because it was very much that the people who were there were those who were opposed to the meeting taking place, and when somebody is against something they are more likely to turn up."

Opposition to the planned BNP meeting had grown over recent days from both the UCU and the national office of the National Union of Students.

The UCU had warned it would hold a protest demonstration if the event went ahead.

Joint general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: "It was the correct decision. Allowing the BNP to speak would have compromised the safety of students and staff and sent out a very worrying message about Bath University's commitment to diversity.

"Nothing is more important than university campuses remaining environment where staff and students are free from intimidation and the threat of violence and where they can work and study safely."

Earlier in the week the UCU had warned that allowing the meting to go ahead would cause "substantial damage" to the university's international reputation.

Even though staff and students "cherish" academic free speech they would "deplore the presence in an institution of learning of Nick Griffin and his hate-filled messages."


Fascist BNP leader stopped from speaking at Bath University

Protest cancelled

Today the University of Bath refused permission for Nick Griffin, leader of the fascist BNP to give a lecture, which was due to take place on Monday 14th May 2007.

Local trade unions including UCU, UNISON and Amicus joined with the National Union of Students and Bath University Students Union and national anti-fascist campaign Unite Against Fascism to mount a campaign to prevent him from being allowed to speak at the university on the grounds that fascist politics pose a danger to the diversity of students and staff alike. In areas that the BNP target, such as Barking and Dagenham, racist attacks and other hate crimes increase.

The protest called by University of Bath branches of Amicus, UNISON, UCU and supported by UCU, NUS, & Unite Against Fascism against the BNP leader's presence on campus has therefore been cancelled.

Love Music Hate Racism will be holding an event, sponsored by UCU, at University of Bath to celebrate anti- racism and the diversity on campus. This event is on Monday 14th May, 7pm till 11pm at Elements, Bath University Students Union, Bath University, Bath BA2 7AY and will feature prominent DJ's and a film screening of the Love Music Hate Racism DVD ' Who shot the sheriff 'and speeches.

Sally Hunt, UCU joint general secretary said:
“We feel this is the correct decision. Allowing the BNP to speak would have compromised the safety of staff and students and sent out a very worrying message about Bath University’s commitment to diversity.

“The millions of staff and students who cherish academic freedom as a precious right still deplore the presence in an institution of learning of Nick Griffin and his hate-filled messages. Nothing is more important than university campuses remaining environments where staff and students are free from intimidation and the threat of violence, and where they can work and study safely.”

Gemma Tumelty NUS President said:
"The defeat of the BNP being allowed to spread its message of hatred from an academic institution represents a massive victory for all those who value democracy. This shows the importance of building a broad coalition between trade unionists, students, community groups and all those who oppose the BNP. The University was right to withdraw its invite to the BNP but NUS also believes it is necessary for the university to recognise the danger that fascism poses to the safety of students and all of those within the campus community. NUS will continue to campaign to ensure that fascism never gains a foothold on our campuses."

Weyman Bennett, Joint National Secretary of Unite Against Fascism said:
“The fascist BNP craves legitimacy but it is an organisation of violent thugs riddled with criminal convictions, which admires Hitler and the Nazis. Allowing its leader the legitimacy of speaking at an academic institution would only further its aims of making the politics of hatred more palatable. The racist, homophobic, Islamophobic, anti-Semitic politics of the BNP pose a danger to many of the staff and students who make up the diversity of the university. This was the right decision by the university and the overwhelming and immediate opposition expressed to Griffin speaking is a reflection of how unacceptable he is to the majority of people.“



Anonymous said...

Brilliant news. Now we need to work on kicking Danny Lake out.

Anonymous said...

Thank fuck for that. We wont need to go all the way down to bath now!

Anonymous said...

Excellent news. Best thing I've heard all week.

Anonymous said...

Wow they backed off quick, I thought it might take a while yett

Anonymous said...

Great news! :-D

Antifascist said...

Too right.

Anonymous said...

Good riddance to bad rubbish. Keep bloody Griffin out of everywhere.

Anonymous said...

Fookin a

Anonymous said...

Common sense prevails, albeit with a little gentle persuasion lol

Anonymous said...

Great news!