BREAKING: Durham University postpones Durham Union debate after pro-Palestinian protest

By Elliot Burrin, and

Pro-Palestinian protesters rallied against the Durham Union Society on 7th June, protesting against a debate set to be held that evening.

The debate, which was being held in the Durham Union’s debating chamber in the Pemberton Buildings on Palace Green, was titled ‘This House Believes Palestinian Leadership is the Biggest Barrier to Peace.’ 

The building is owned by Durham University, meaning that the speakers had to comply with Durham University’s code of practice on Freedom of Expression. The Durham Union Society is an independent charity, run by students.

The debate has since been postponed by the University, who have said that they will liaise with the Durham Union Society to reschedule the event “on the earliest possible opportunity and on providing a secure venue”.

At 7:15pm, protestors moved to block the front and back entrances of the Pemberton Buildings and two of the surrounding alleyways. Throughout the night, the protestors banged drums, shouted chants, and sang songs. 

At 7:15pm, protestors moved to block the front and back entrances of the Pemberton Buildings, where they stayed until around 10:30pm

There were some members of the Durham Union inside the debating chamber before the blockade began; however, the speakers never arrived at the event, but were having dinner with other Durham Union members elsewhere in Durham.

A crowd of onlookers, including Durham Union Members due to attend the debate, watched on from the side, waiting to hear if they could enter the building. The debate was supposed to begin at 8:30pm.

There was a security presence, which had been agreed and arranged by the University. Police were also present throughout the entire evening. 

At 8:45pm, the debate was postponed, at the decision of Durham University. The event had “full support” of the University, according to a statement released this evening. 

“We were expecting a protest at the event, having been made aware in advance,” Durham University’s statement said, “We made appropriate security arrangements, taking the advice of Durham Police, to ensure the welfare, safety and security of all involved and our wider community.”

“In response to further intelligence and advice from the police about a risk to public safety, the University regretfully took the decision to end the event.”

Members of the Durham Union who were still inside the debating chamber were gradually escorted out by security through side doors. 

The protests continued until about 10:30pm. Most Durham Union members had dispersed by this point, with some of the protestors remaining.

This story is breaking news, and details may change. We will continue to update this story. If you have any details, please get in touch with editor@palatinate.org.uk.

Image: George Baker

4 thoughts on “BREAKING: Durham University postpones Durham Union debate after pro-Palestinian protest

  • A totally disgraceful episode.

    The **Durham Friends of Hamas ** won the day and the spineless administration caved

    to their intimidation.

    Reply
    • Couldn’t agree more. Tells us everything we need to know about a large proportion of the pro-Palestinian lobby.

      Reply
  • Where’s the freedom of expression here then? Only allowed views if the terrorist supporters agree with them!
    Disgusting that they were allowed to get away with this. Police should have moved them on so debate could’ve took place!

    Reply

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