University College London (UCL) this week published findings of its investigation into events which took place last October at a UCLU Friends of Israel event, where students had to be escorted by police after protesters disrupted a speech by a former Israeli soldier, Hen Mazzig.
The university’s investigation found “evidence that a smaller group of protesters intentionally disrupted the rights of others to exercise freedom of speech within the law, and that their behaviour caused stress and anxiety to students and staff at UCL”.
Following the events, Universities Minister Jo Johnson MP emphasised his concern about the “troubling incident” at UCL, and underlined that “there is no place in our society for bigotry, hatred or any form of racism”.
The Minister made the comments following a letter from CFI Parliamentary Chairman Rt. Hon. Sir Eric Pickles MP. In his letter, Sir Eric condemned the “shameful events” at the university, which required pro-Israel students to be escorted from the event by police for their own safety. He described video footage from the event as “shocking” and said that it is “simply unacceptable in 2016 that a group of students expressing their right to free speech require a police escort to leave a prestigious university building for their own personal safety”.
Sir Eric called on the Minister “to do everything within [his] power to ensure that free speech is protected on university campuses across the UK”.
UCL’s investigation also said that “verbally hostile behaviour was not confined to protesters, with a small minority of attendees also engaging in aggressive and physically intimidatory behaviour”.
UCL said: “The investigation understands from the police that allegations of assault made to them at the time have either been withdrawn or are not currently being pursued as a line of inquiry. The investigation found no evidence that any of these actions were planned or pre-meditated”.
The report makes a number of recommendations, including suggesting the referral of “a number of UCL students… for consideration of disciplinary action under the UCL disciplinary code”.
Another recommendation from the report stated: “UCL should develop a code of conduct for all visitors to the UCL campus”.
The report additionally recommends that the university undertakes a “review of the operational protocol and training for high risk events”.
The provost of the University, Professor Michael Arthur, met with Jewish students and communal organisations on Tuesday, where he reportedly announced his immediate acceptance of all the recommendations made in the report.
Josh Nagli, campaigns director for the Union of Jewish Students, said: “We welcome the findings from University College London and are pleased they have treated this deplorable event with the seriousness it should be given”.
Click here to read UCL’s full report.