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Prevent: Cambridge University publicly apologises for interference in a PalSoc Panel

PalSoc welcomes the apology…

apology pal soc prevent University of Cambridge

Management at the University of Cambridge has officially apologised for interfering in PalSoc's panel on November 8th entitled 'BDS and the struggle for Palestinian Human Rights'. The University came under fire when they prevented Dr Ruba Salih, a SOAS academic from chairing the panel under Prevent.

The decision was made after a member of the House of Lords addressed a letter to Stephen Toope, the universities Vice-Chancellor. PalSoc described the letter as lobbying 'for the censorship of the event under the Prevent duty on the grounds of defamation of the speakers'.

The statement recognises fault in the decision saying 'The University would like to acknowledge that its decision to impose an alternative chair was the wrong response on this occasion, that it evoked strong and understandable concerns within our own community and beyond relating to academic freedom.'

The apology also recognised specific harm towards Dr Salih saying the decision 'portrayed Dr Salih in a manner that does not befit a respected academic with more than 15 years' experience of chairing meeting in a balanced and scholarly way. We therefore would like to apologise to Dr Salih for removing her as a chair'.

The University looked forward in its statement expressing a commitment to 'listening to views and feedback, and refining our procedures accordingly.'

PalSoc told The Tab that they welcomed the apology 'and admission of wrongdoing.' The spokesperson expressed how the society is 'encouraged by the University's recognition and understanding of the outrage' the implementation of Prevent created. They encouraged the University to 'look towards amending its policies and procedures, in democratic consultation and coordination with students and staff, so as to reassert the primacy of legislation guarding basic human rights.'

The society explained that they 'are hopeful, following this retraction, that Cambridge University authorities will partake in efforts to defend these rights [freedom of thought and freedom from discrimination] from the Prevent duty and external political pressure to misapply it.'