Academic freedom and freedom of speech have always been fundamental to who we are and what we do as a university. Encouraging free and open debate is critical to learning, challenging assumptions and understanding different perspectives.
Mr Zahawi was invited as a guest speaker by the Conservative Association and this was approved by the Students’ Union, which operates independently of the University.
We were aware of plans for a protest at the meeting on Friday evening and our community safety team ensured that the event went ahead safely, despite it being noisy and disruptive outside the event.
It’s important to recognise that students have the right to lawful protest – and to date we have received no allegations of any assault, damage or threats relating to the event.
As is normal practice, we will review our approach to the protest and consider what steps we should potentially take as a result.
We will continue to urge our students to respect people’s views even when they are different to their own.
31 May 2022