University of Nottingham defends invitation to Chris Williamson despite concern

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University of Nottingham defends invitation to Chris Williamson despite concern

This comes despite calls from the Union of Jewish Students and Nottingham Jewish Society for the event to be cancelled

Chris Williamson
Chris Williamson

The University of Nottingham has defended its decision to invite suspended MP Chris Williamson to deliver a talk next week despite backlash.

Williamson has been invited along with several MPs across the political spectrum to discuss British party politics and the 2015 and 2017 elections’ results.

The event is to be co-hosted by assistant professor Mark Stuart and honorary professor John Hess, the BBC’s former chief political editor in the East Midlands.

A spokesperson for the University of Nottingham said it “does not in any way condone the actions and statements of Mr Williamson.”

But the spokesperson added: “While we will monitor his actions closely, we also have no reason to believe that he will break the law when speaking on our campus.

“While the university is committed to supporting the well-being of all students within our community, we also have a legal duty to ensure that lawful free speech should not be prevented on campus.”

The Union of Jewish Students and Nottingham Jewish Society called for the event to be cancelled in a joint-statement released on Friday.

“Williamson has been invited to Nottingham to add a perspective of an individual who is an ally of Jeremy Corbyn, yet there are plenty of individuals the university could have invited who are not suspended for antisemitism,” it said.

“Decisions to host those suspended from their political parties over anti-Jewish racism are inappropriate, offensive and go against the very ideals of the university,” it continued.

The Board of Deputies said it stood with UJS on Twitter. “Williamson – who was suspended from Labour in February – is a wholly inappropriate speaker for any university. We stand with @UJS_UK. Universities must reject hate, not host it!”

The Jewish Labour Movement added: “We are incredibly disappointed by the University of Nottingham’s decision to invite Chris Williamson to speak.

“Williamson has a history of baiting members of the Jewish community and defending antisemitism – so much so that he is currently suspended from the Labour Party.”

Williamson’s suspension came in February after remarks on Labour’s handling of antisemitism complaints. After being readmitted with a formal warning in June, the Derby North MP lost the whip again.

Chris Williamson has been approached for comment.

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