Edinburgh University denies cancelling meetings under Prevent

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Old College, Edinburgh University
Su Hongjia
Old College, Edinburgh University

SACC received the following reply, dated 3 May 2016, from Edinburgh University to our letter of 28 April in support of a student sit-in.

Thank you for your letter dated 28th April addressed to the Principal.

The University has a long and proud tradition of hosting speakers from around the world who come to the University to share their thoughts and insights, and help the University fulfil its mission of advancing and disseminating knowledge. The University is strongly committed to maintaining this tradition.

Equally, the University has a duty to comply with its statutory obligations. For speakers and events, these include health and safety obligations, equality duties, the new Prevent duty and the statutory need to protect freedom of speech. The University's Policy on Speakers and Events (online at www.ed.ac.uk/universitv-secretary-group/prevent-dutv/policies-and-procedures) sets out explicitly how the University will meet its requirements under the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act (2015), as well as other relevant acts, whilst ensuring freedom of speech on campus. It is the University's position that this policy is necessary and proportionate in the context of its statutory obligations.

Contrary to what you may have been told, I can reassure you that the University has not to date required any speakers or any events, whether student- or University-led, to be cancelled under this policy. Only one request has been refused, and this solely because it involved a high level diplomat, was made less than 48 hours before the event and there was not enough time to arrange security.

Yours sincerely
Gavin Douglas
Deputy Secretary, Student Experience.