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UCL statement: protest at UCLU event

11 November 2016

An investigation is now under way into the events that took place at the UCLU Friends of Israel event on 27 October, following numerous allegations of violence and intimidation received by UCL. Professor Geraint Rees, Dean of the UCL Faculty of Life Sciences, has been asked by UCL President & Provost, Professor Michael Arthur, to lead this investigation.

The purpose of the investigation is to establish:

  1. An accurate record of what occurred at the event 
  2. The arrangements put in place by UCL to organise and manage the event 
  3. Whether there is evidence of behavior contrary to UCL policies governing events held on campus, the academic regulations, and student and staff safety-related policies
  4. Any UCL policy changes and improvements to event management that should be considered for the conduct of future events 

This remit may evolve in the light of evidence received and at the discretion of the investigating team. It is anticipated that the investigation will report back before the end of the current academic term. The investigation team can be contacted at inquiry-2016@ucl.ac.uk

30 October 2016

Update to our original statement regarding the Friends of Israel event at UCL on 27 October 2016. 

Initial investigations into the event are underway. We have received allegations of violence and intimidation which, if confirmed, we condemn in the strongest possible terms. These allegations will be the focus of our continuing investigation and we will be working with the police if necessary to pursue evidence.  

We re- iterate our position that we are a university that supports both the right to free speech and of protest. The latter must however be conducted in a respectful and peaceful manner. As part of our investigation we will be reviewing our procedures to ensure this is adhered to.

28 October 2016

UCL and UCLU do not condone acts of intimidation or violence under any circumstances and, as a university with a longstanding radical history, we fiercely support the right to exercise free speech within the law.

The freedom to debate and challenge views is fundamental to the nature of a university. We also acknowledge the right to peaceful protest and we put the safety of our staff and student community at the heart of everything we do.

On 27 October, we did all we could to ensure that the UCLU Friends of Israel Society event could go ahead at UCL, working with our Security team and the Metropolitan police.

It was widely advertised and open to the public, and as a result a small but noisy group of protesters attended and occupied the rooms where the event was originally meant to take place. UCL Security found an alternative location and ensured the event went ahead safely. We regret protesters took measures to try to prevent the event from happening but stress that the protest was non-violent.

We are aware that the Metropolitan police attended following accusations of assault and support them fully in their investigations. As this was a public event, it is unclear how many UCL students were present but we are instigating an enquiry and we will take appropriate disciplinary action where there is clear evidence that students may have breached our disciplinary regulations.
Both UCL and UCLU have a code of practice governing the participation of external speakers at events held at UCL. It is clearly stated in UCL’s code of practice that the premises will not be denied to any individual on any ground connected with their beliefs. 

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