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Reg. 29 Regulations covering Meetings etc. on University Premises


These Regulations are issued by the Council in pursuance of its duties as laid down in Section 43 of the Education (No.2) Act 1986, with a view to providing such safeguards as are reasonably practicable to ensure that freedom of speech within the law is secured for members, students and employees of the University, and for visiting speakers.

(1) Principles

(a) So far as is reasonably practicable, no premises of the University shall be denied to any individual or body of persons wishing to use them for meetings on any grounds connected with:

(i) the beliefs or views of that individual or of that body; or

(ii) the policy or objectives of that body.

The University is required to take such steps as are reasonably practicable to ensure that freedom of speech is secured within the law. There is no requirement to provide a platform for a speech which is seditious, defamatory or in contempt of court, or which constitutes incitement; nor are speakers permitted to breach the requirements of existing statutory powers, such as the Race Relations Act 1976.

A speaker, for example, who incites an audience to violence or to breach of the peace or to racial hatred transgresses the bounds of lawful speech. Equally, assemblies of persons, even if directed to lawful purposes, cease to be lawful if they cause serious public disorder or breaches of the peace.

(b) Any meetings or other activities where there is a real likelihood that the speaker may not be able to enter or leave the building safely and/or have the freedom within the law to deliver their speech will be deemed to fall within the requirements of this Code.

(2) Procedures

(a) By the authority of the Council of the University the following procedures must in future be followed by members, students and employees of the University in respect of:

(i) meetings or any other activities which are to be held on premises of the University falling within the class of meetings specified in paragraph (1)(b) above; and

(ii) the conduct required of all persons in connection with any such defined meetings or activities; and

(iii) any other related or ancillary matters which the Council of the University from time to time declares to fall within this Code. (See paragraphs (3)(g) and (4) below.)

(b) Infringements of, or departures from, these procedures in whatever respect will render those responsible subject to disciplinary proceedings as laid down by the University in Disciplinary Regulations.

(c) Additionally, if such actions involve breaches of the law the University authorities will be ready to assist the prosecuting authorities to implement the processes of law and, if charges are preferred, will stay disciplinary proceedings pending the outcome of any such proceedings.

(d) The Council of the University, in laying down the following, authorises the Vice-Chancellor to appoint the Registrar who shall act on its behalf to ensure as far as is reasonably practicable that all members, students and employees of the University, and visiting speakers, comply with the provisions of this Code.

(3) Preparation for and Conduct of Meetings etc. on University Premises

The duties laid upon the University under Section 43 of the Education (No.2) Act 1986 apply to any authorised meetings or gatherings held on University premises. Meetings which would be likely to fall into category (1)(b) above are those which take place outside teaching time, and/or relate to non-teaching activities, and for which a specific room booking is therefore required. The procedures set out below govern the booking of rooms in such circumstances. However, members of the University must be aware that events such as scheduled lectures or guest seminars which are a part of a departmental series could also fall into category (1)(b), and that there is therefore a clear duty on organisers of such events to inform the Registrar, in accordance with (d) below, if there is any possibility of a problem arising. In such cases the provisions of paragraph (3) will apply as appropriate.

(a) Administrative responsibility for the initial acceptance of bookings and/or hiring of all rooms and other space in or on University premises outside teaching time and/or for non-teaching activities is allocated to individuals or post holders. Principal organisers must make the booking or hiring of the desired space through the specified individual or post holder. All such bookings and/or hiring must be applied for by completion and submission of the appropriate application form.

(b) On receipt of the application, the specified individual or post holder will either:

(i) firmly accept the application and grant permission for the meeting or activity to take place, according to the requirements specified by the principal organiser on the form; or

(ii) provisionally accept the application and forward the form to the Registrar; or

(iii) if suitable premises are unavailable, not accept the application.

(c) The organisers of any such event shall ensure that a single person is appointed as principal organiser of the event.

(d) It is the responsibility of the principal organiser to ensure that the attention of the Registrar as well as the specified individual or post holder is drawn to those meetings which might fall in the category described in section (1)(b) above.

(e) The principal organiser of such an event shall secure that at least three weeks before the date proposed for the event, notice of the proposal is given to the specified individuals or post holders and the Registrar. Such notice shall contain a written statement of the name of the speaker, the name of the Chair, the subject of the address and the precise timing of arrival and departure of the speaker.

(f) Within one week of receiving such notice the Registrar shall issue a statement which shall either grant or withhold permission for the use of University premises as proposed for the conduct of the event. (See paragraph (6) below.)

(g) Permission so granted may be granted subject to such conditions as the Registrar considers reasonably necessary to secure fulfilment of the University’s statutory responsibilities concerning the protection of the freedom of speech within the law (see paragraph (4) below).

(h) The Registrar shall be empowered to designate an event as one which is subject to the provision and requirements of this Code of Practice if he/she has reasonable grounds for believing that it may fall into the category of activities specified in paragraph (l)(b) above, even if the organisers have not given notice of the proposed event. The organisers shall then be informed by the Registrar of the provisions and requirements of this Code of Practice.

(i) The principal organiser and every other person concerned with the organisation of an event for which permission has been granted shall be required to comply with any and every condition laid down by the Registrar under the provisions of this Code. Such conditions may include a requirement that tickets should be issued for public meetings; that, if tickets are issued, the doors should be manned and only ticket-holders admitted; and that an adequate number of stewards should be available, as to whose suitability the Registrar must be satisfied, in addition to any security staff that the Registrar may feel should be present to maintain order (see paragraph (4) below). The responsibility for meeting the cost of such conditions as may be deemed necessary shall be assessed by the Registrar.

(j) The University will normally supply and pay the cost of a public address system and/or relay system to an additional hall if there is reasonable cause to consider either of these necessary to enable a meeting to take place within adequate hearing of the speaker.

(k) The principal organiser, the committee of the society, and/or organisation responsible for the designated meeting have a duty to see that nothing in the preparations for, or conduct of, a meeting or activity infringes the law, e.g. by conduct likely to cause a breach of the peace or incitement to illegal acts.

(l) The Chair of the meeting has a duty so far as possible to secure that both the audience and the speaker act in accordance with the law during the meeting. In case of unlawful conduct the Chair is required to give appropriate warnings and, in case of continuing unlawfulness, to require the withdrawal or removal of persons concerned by the stewards or security staff.

(m) Premises used for meetings or activities must be left in clean and tidy, conditions in default of which the organisers may be charged for any additional cleaning and repairs that are subsequently required. The organisers must indemnify the University in the event of any damage to premises. Payment in advance or evidence of ability to pay towards these costs may be required at the discretion of the Registrar.

(n) The conditions prescribed by the Registrar under subsection (g) above and paragraph (4) below may include conditions concerning admission or exclusion of press, television or broadcasting personnel.

(4) In addition to the conditions set out in paragraph (3) above the Registrar has discretion to lay down further conditions. These may, if appropriate, be laid down after consultation with the police. Thus he/she may, for example, require the designated meeting or activity to be declared public (which would permit a police presence); he/she may arrange for university staff to be responsible for all security arrangements connected with the meeting or activity and appoint a member of staff as, ‘controlling officer’ for the occasion. If not satisfied that adequate arrangements can be made to maintain good order he/she may refuse or withdraw permission for the meeting or activity. Such a step would normally only be taken on the advice of the police.

(5) Stewards and/or security staff appointed to maintain order shall have the right to prohibit those attending a meeting from bringing into the building or other place where the meeting is to take place any article or object likely to cause injury or damage.

(6) Appeals against the rulings of the Registrar may be made to the Vice-Chancellor whose decision shall be final but must be reported to the next meeting of the Council of the University.

(7) This Code of Practice shall be subject to annual review by the Finance and General Purposes Committee of the Council, which will, in the light of its operation, recommend such amendments as may be deemed necessary.