Norfolk

UEA's student event cancelled over UKIP invite

Douglas Carswell Image copyright PA
Image caption UKIP MP Douglas Carswell criticised "UEA student lefties" in a tweet

A political discussion featuring speakers from UKIP was called off after more than 1,100 people signed a petition opposing it.

The University of East Anglia (UEA) debate on Thursday was due to include UKIP's parliamentary candidate for Norwich South Steve Emmens.

But it was postponed by the student union, which said certain procedures had not been followed.

A rival petition has now been set up to call for the event to be rescheduled.

The original petition, initiated by UEA student Timea Suli, called for the event to be withdrawn and organised at "a location away from the university campus".

She said the university was home to thousands of international students and was known as "an advocate of diversity, integration, and tolerance".

Ms Suli wrote on the website presenting the petition: "This is about ensuring UEA students are on a campus where they feel safe, secure and respected."

After the cancellation was announced, Ms Suli said: "To call this an assault on freedom of speech is an error.

"We fully support and insist that the PSI (Political, Social and International Studies) Society reschedule this event, but to a site away from campus."

Image copyright Katy Walters
Image caption The UEA event, which would have included two UKIP representatives, was cancelled by the student union

Student Haylie Pallister, who organised the meeting, said she was hoping to reschedule the event at the university.

"Politics is controversial and you may not agree with opinions, these do not mean they should be silenced," she said.

A UKIP spokesman said the decision was "the worst kind of political censorship".

'Boost turnout'

Eric Masters, UKIP's Norwich South branch chairman, said his party's door "remains open".

He said: "If the political society can sort out the internal issues at UEA, we are still willing to go along and speak to the students, so they can make up their own minds about us."

The students' union said it was yet to decide whether the event could go ahead.

"We will now meet the PSI society to discuss the postponement of this event," a union spokesman said.

UKIP MP for Clacton, Douglas Carswell, tweeted to say "UEA student lefties have banned UKIP from speaking on campus. (Should) boost turnout when I speak there in the New Year. #FreeThinking".

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