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  • 16

    Violence at Oxford Free Speech 'Debate'
    Political Correctness; Posted on: 2007-11-26 16:07:41 [ Printer friendly / Instant flyer ]
    Violence in Oxford as BNP leader Nick Griffin and historian David Irving appear

    Helen Nugent and Laura Pitel

    Students attacked and jeered other students in chaotic scenes at Oxford University tonight as controversial historian David Irving and BNP leader Nick Griffin appeared for a freedom of speech event.

    Undergraduates with tickets to the debate endured chants of "Nazi scum" and "shame on you" from hundreds of protestors from Oxford colleges and Unite Against Fascism campaigners who crammed into a narrow street in central Oxford. Some protestors brandished placards and hit students trying to enter the debating chamber.

    As ticketholders fought their way through the gates, 12 protestors broke into the chamber and one tried to attack a member of the debating society’s staff. Up to 15 policemen fought to bring them under control while nervous students waited in the bar for the debate to begin. By 8.30pm – when the debate was supposed to start – just 250 of the audience had been allowed into the building, half of the expected turnout.

    Earlier in the evening, a large crowd amassed outside the society’s grounds, shouting anti-fascist slogans, banging drums and waving flags and banners. On the periphery of the crowd, just two policemen were visible.


    Free speech is a right says Oxford MP

    News article filed by BNP news team

    Oxford MP Evan Harris has defended the Oxford Union's decision to invite David Irving and Nick Griffin to speak at a student event tonight.

    Dr Harris, Liberal Democrat MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, rejected claims that asking the controversial historian and the BNP leader to take part in a debate on free speech gave them an undeserved aura of respectability.

    The MP, who has himself agreed to take part in tonight's Union debate, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Free speech is not a privilege, it's a right.

    "If I want to debate the limits of free speech within the law I can't really do that consistently by no-platforming extremists.

    "I don't want a bunch of students telling other students or my constituents or me who I can talk to within the law because that way lies effective despotism."

    He said that no-platform policies led to unwelcome restrictions to free speech.

    "When he was an Oxford University student, in 1986, such a policy led to right-wing Conservative MPs being banned from speaking events", he said.

    However the Labour MP for Oxford East has made it clear that he is a free speech denier. In a press release on his web site Andrew Smith writes:

    “I am appalled that the Oxford Union Society is willing to legitimise these men and their vile, divisive behaviour. Racism and holocaust denial are unacceptable. The important principle of free speech is not protected or enhanced by undergraduate attempts to test it to destruction. Policing such a visit would make demands on police officers and resources which are better deployed combating crime in the City. I have written to Luke Tryl, the President of the Oxford Union, asking him to withdraw his invitation, and am urging Labour colleagues in Parliament not to speak at the Union until these invitations are withdrawn.”

    Students at Oxford University’s debating society, the Oxford Union, have backed plans to allow the Union to host a debate tomorrow evening featuring Mr. Griffin and controversial historian David Irving. The topic is that of free speech itself.
    News Source: The Times of London

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