College authorities clamped down on last night's Political Philosophy Society event with the former Prime Minister of Malaysia at the last minute, leading to students from around the country having to cancel travel and accomodation plans, losing them money in the process.
PPS had advertised the event at other universities, and arranged both security and a video link to a neighbouring lecture theatre to cope with the numbers expected. However, following complaints received by the ICU President, the College Secretary Rodney Eastwood and Pro-Rector (Education) Prof Julia Buckingham stepped in to block the attendance of external guests, including students from other universities and George Galloway. In addition to this, College banned the use of recording devices so those who wished to attend will not be able to view a recording either. This move was supposedly in order to ensure it remained available to an "internal audience" only, by which Live! assumes College meant "to ensure no controversial footage makes it onto the Internet". A previous PPS event caused an international diplomatic incident.
Although Live! does not know the content of the complaints received by the ICU President, we believe they centered on the concerns raised in a Live! discussion thread - the chairman of the event was asked to ensure that the speakers remained "on topic" and avoid breaching race-relations legislation. Restrictions were put in place following consultation with the ICU President and the College's legal advisors, ironically under the College's Code of Practice for Free Speech - this guarantees free speech (within the law) to students, staff and visiting speakers, but also allows restrictions to apply to events (for example, the audience) to maintain "the safety and security" of speakers and guests.
The event appears to have been a great success despite the restrictions, and Live! wonders if anyone managed to secretly film it. Please get in touch.