Carl Benjamin: University hustings cancelled over safety fears after Ukip candidate doused with milkshake
'We believe it presents too high a security risk for us to hold the event on this campus,' UWE officials say
The “high-risk” event was due to be held at the University of the West of England (UWE) in Bristol on Friday, but was cancelled on the advice of police and campus security staff.
Mr Benjamin, also known by his online moniker Sargon of Akkad, is standing as an MEP candidate in the southwest region.
University officials appeared to have judged that he would not be safe during the proposed debate. Organisers said they feared possible disruption by protesters.
“We are wholly committed to the principle of freedom of speech and we have a long history of regularly welcoming a diversity of speakers onto our campuses to spark discussion and debate,” UWE said in a statement.
“Both Avon and Somerset Constabulary and our security team consider this to be a high risk event that requires significant security measures to be put in place. Based on our risk assessment of the event as it currently stands, and the ongoing changes we are aware of to the event format and panel participants, we believe it presents too high a security risk for us to hold the event on this campus.”
The university’s debating society confirmed to The Independent that Mr Benjamin was among the proposed speakers.
Another proposed panel member, the Green Party’s Carla Denyer, told the organisers that she would not share a platform with Mr Benjamin because of his rape comments.
The debating society added in a statement: “We sought the top candidate from each of the parties’ lists and subsequently accepted whichever speaker was offered to us. All the candidates were approved through the students’ union and university’s external speakers policies.
“Concerns were raised at a meeting between our society, the students’ union and UWE, not about Carl Benjamin himself, but about potential disruption of the event by individuals that would want to protest him.”
UWE was the venue at which Jacob Rees-Mogg was filmed breaking up a scuffle when masked protesters disrupted a talk he was giving.
The Conservative MP was filmed as he restrained a number of people as the confrontation threatened to turn violent.