Students and campaigners from Stop the War Coalition repeat call for former prime minister to be tried for war crimes.
Students and campaigners from the Stop the War Coalition repeated their demand that the former prime minister be tried for war crimes.
Blair was speaking in London Bridge at the launch of the Institute for Security and Resilience Studies (ISRS) – a research institute which shares an address with UCL – alongside former defence secretary John Reid and education secretary Michael Gove.
UCL says it is independent from the ISRS however protestors point out professor Malcolm Grant, who is president and provost of UCL, appears on the ISRS’s advisory board.
Students say the event’s organisers behaved in an underhand manner by failing to advertise where the speech would take place, and by charging £700 for tickets.
Chris Nineham, vice-chair of Stop the War Coalition, which organised the protest at UCL says: “It is completely insane for a man who lied to parliament to be speaking at a conference supported by one of Britain’s premier educational institutions. It is an absolutely mad situation.”
UCL student Ollie Sutherland, one of dozens who protested, agreed that Blair was not welcome on campus: “Universities need to make the world a better place and inviting people like Tony Blair runs contrary to that.”
UCL, however, has defended its position, saying: “The event is being held under the auspices of the ISRS, an independent research institute and not-for-profit company.
“They are responsible for the conference, and no funding, facilities or accommodation for the conference have been requested or are being provided by UCL.
“The conference is not taking place at UCL. As an institute devoted to learning, UCL values freedom of speech highly and encourages the widest possible expression of differing views, within the law. We do not operate a policy of barring speaker with controversial views.”
Earlier this week, Labour MPs Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell said they were “appalled” by the news that Blair was to appear at the event, and called on UCL to “reconsider its position in hosting this institution and instead protect its own academic independence”.
• This article was amended on Wednesday 14 November. The original story suggested Tony Blair was appearing at UCL. This has been corrected. It was also added that ISRS shares the same address as UCL, and that the university’s provost appears on the ISRS advisory board.
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