Nottingham

Nottingham Trent student not guilty of racial harassment

Lauren Leigh
Image caption Lauren Leigh said in court she believed "we hate the whites" was a reasonable response.

A student who was accused of racial harassment for shouting "we hate the whites" has been found not guilty.

Lauren Leigh was responding to another group of Nottingham Trent University students, who were filmed chanting "we hate the blacks" in a halls of residence corridor.

The 19-year-old was acquitted of racially aggravated harassment at Nottingham Magistrates' Court.

Her co-accused, Joe Tivnan, admitted racial harassment at court in May.

Ms Leigh told police that on 5 March Mr Tivnan had said "no blacks in the photo" and chanted "we hate the blacks", before she responded "we hate the whites", the court heard.

Deputy district judge Chris Johnson said there was no doubt Ms Leigh's words were capable of causing harassment, and they were used in a public place.

However, he added that while what she said was "ill advised" there was no hostility, and therefore the case could not be proven.

'Horrendous experience'

Giving evidence, Ms Leigh said she knew everybody there and felt it was unlikely to cause any offence.

"I was drunk, but not paralytic and knew what I was doing."

Ms Leigh said in court she had been suspended from university and suffered from anxiety caused by the legal proceedings.

She cried as the verdict was read out, repeating "thank you, thank you" before going out and hugging her parents.

In a statement read by her solicitor after the hearing, Ms Leigh said: "This has been an horrendous experience and I am glad this ordeal is over and I can move on with my life."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Tivnan made an "unreserved apology to anyone who has been affected by my behaviour" during his court appearance in May

Mr Tivnan, also 19, was fined £200 and ordered to pay £500 compensation after pleading guilty in May. Mr Tivnan is no longer a student at Nottingham Trent University.

A university spokesman said any form of racism and discrimination "will not be tolerated" and now Ms Leigh has been found not guilty it was able to resume its own internal investigation.

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