Poll to de­cide if Ox­ford will host Grif­fin and Irv­ing de­bate

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY LEON SY­MONS

OXFORDUNIONpres­i­den­tLukeTryl, who has cham­pi­oned a de­bate in­volv­ing Holo­caust-de­nier David Irv­ing and Bri­tish Na­tional Party chair­man Nick Grif­fin, has told the JC he will with­draw the in­vi­ta­tions if he loses what is in ef­fect a vote of con­fi­dence.

Union mem­bers are due to vote to­day (Fri­day) on a mo­tion sup­port­ing the in­vi­ta­tions to Irv­ing and Grif­fin at the same time as they vote for the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s sum­mer-term pres­i­dent.

Mr Tryl said: “If the poll goes against me, I will with­draw the in­vi­ta­tions. At the end of the day, I am ac­count­able to my mem­bers. If they don’t want it, it won’t hap­pen.”

He de­nied that the long-run­ning controversy since the in­vi­ta­tions be­came known had dam­aged the so­ci­ety. The lat­est high-pro­file names who have can­celled ap­pear­ances in­clude De­fence Sec­re­tary Des Browne and tele­vi­sion pre­sen­ter June Sar­pong.

“We have had more than 50 speak­ers this term, but all one hears about are the five or so who have pulled out,” he said.

He also fended off crit­i­cism that the Union was guilty of dou­ble stan­dards af­ter its stand­ing com­mit­tee im­posed rules for­bid­ding mem­bers to dis­cuss the mo­tion or cam­paign for it, say­ing that he had not been present when the rules were set. The Irv­ing-Grif­fin event sched­uled for Mon­day is en­ti­tled “A Night of Dis­cus­sion on the Lim­its of Free Speech”.

He also de­nied the rules were put in place to ham­per the ef­forts of the de­bate’s op­po­nents to drum up enough votes.

Both the Ox­ford Uni­ver­sity Stu­dents’ Union and the Jewish So­ci­ety have con­demned the stand­ing com­mit­tee’s move. OUSU pres­i­dent Martin McCluskey said: “Their reg­u­la­tions are ridicu­lous. They are hold­ing a de­bate about free speech but are deny­ing their own mem­bers [the right to say] any­thing about this. They have even tried to im­pose the rules on non-mem­bers.”

J-Soc pres­i­dent Steven Alt­man­nRicher said: “They have tried to make it as dif­fi­cult as pos­si­ble for those who are op­posed to this event.”

The Union of Jewish Stu­dents said it was plan­ning to bus in stu­dents from across the coun­try if Mon­day’s de­bate goes ahead. Cam­paigns or­gan­iser Yair Zi­van said they hoped to bring con­tin­gents from Lon­don,Bristol,Birm­ing­ham,Manch­ester, Leeds and Not­ting­ham to take part in a peace­ful demon­stra­tion out­side the de­bat­ing cham­ber with lo­cal stu­dent groups, trades unions and other or­gan­i­sa­tions. Ap­peals have gone out via the in­ter­net for all Union life­long mem­bers to try to get to Ox­ford to vote. While at least two in­ter­net sites were call­ing for a show of right-wing sup­port on Mon­day night, Thames Val­ley po­lice said it hoped the event would pass off peace­fully. A spokesman said that while en­try was by in­vi­ta­tion only and was openon­ly­tomem­bers of the Union, po­lice wil l k e e p a close watch o n t h e event.


The BNP’s Nick Grif­fin

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