Response: Peter Hitchens Speaker Event

Friday 27-10-2017 - 11:59
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"We are proud to give a home to over 180 societies who often invite external speakers into our building as part of their activities.

“As standard practice, all external speakers are required to comply with the University’s Policy and Code of Practice Regarding Freedom of Speech, which specifically emphasises our responsibility and legal duty to protect freedom of speech - and we take our obligations to do this very seriously. In the spirit of transparency and openness, we ask that the code is shared with visiting speakers so they can see the framework within which any specific requirements for their visit sits.

"We understand concerns that the Policy and Code of Practice lists additional steps that may be required in order for an event to happen. Such steps are only taken after careful consideration, and if absolutely necessary to enable events and debates to take place. We recognise the responsibility we have to implement such measures sensitively, and to ensure that people’s legal right to freedom of speech is protected. For the avoidance of doubt, we did not need to see Peter’s speech in advance. In keeping with our normal approach to guest speakers, we ask for basic information on the topic that speakers are coming to talk on. Our expectation is that this information will allow us to understand the broad scope of the speech. It also allows us to ensure that events which are likely to be popular are hosted in appropriately sized rooms. For example, we anticipated the popularity of this event and suggested that this event be upgraded to our Stanley Theatre, as it had a larger capacity than the room that was originally requested.

"We were looking forward to him coming and were pleased one of our societies had secured this speaker. It is a shame he felt he was unable to attend."

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