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Ex city MP hits out after uni.

Byline: Simon Gilbert Chief Reporter

blocks campus speech FORMER Coventry MP Dave Nellist has accused a university of using laws designed to prevent terrorism to stop him from speaking about Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn on campus.

Left wing Mr Nellist, who served as Coventry South East MP for nine years, had been invited by students at Leeds Beckett University to speak to members of the Socialist Society about the recent appointment of Mr Corbyn as Labour leader. But Mr Nellist alleges the university used 'Prevent' legislation, recently devised by Conservative home secretary Theresa May as a way of curbing extremism, to block the talk. The legislation was passed this year and insists on certain measures being taken before 'high risk' speakers appear at universities - including giving adequate notice to relevant officials.

But Leeds Beckett offi-cials said its policy of requiring 10 working days' notice for external speakers to attend campus was long-standing and predated the recently introduced Prevent legislation. Mr Nellist had been due to speak on campus on Tuesday, and said notice had been sent on October 15 - eleven days in advance, but only seven working days prior.

But the university con-firmed he would be refused permission to meet students on campus as the university's registrar had not been given the required notice.

A spokesman for Leeds Beckett said: "We have not banned anyone from speaking.

"We have not refused anyone permission to speak at the university this year. In this case it appears the paperwork has not been received in time."

The left-wing politician entered the House of Commons at the same time as Jeremy Corbyn and was expelled by the Labour Party in 1992 for his socialist views.

He told the Telegraph: "I have lost count of the number of universities I have spoken at over the past 40 years, but this is the first time I have been banned."

Mr Nellist added that he did not accept the refusal to allow him to speak was unconnected to the Prevent legislation, and said it was a concerning development for free speech. He added: "It is a worry when the government takes aim with shotguns and blunderbusses, whether intentionally or not, at free speech.

"They can end up labelling all opposition as extremists. You don't stop extremism by slapping down on free speech "Universities should be a place where ideas are debated, not where free speech is curtailed."

Mr Nellist planned to move the meeting with students from the university to a nearby pub and it is understood members of the university's Socialist Society had planned to protest in response to blocking Mr Nellist from speaking on campus.


Dave | Nellist and Jeremy Corbyn

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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Oct 29, 2015
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