Septemviri imposes one-term suspension

Owen Holland’s appeal before Cambridge University’s special appeals court, the Septemviri, took place earlier today. The original seven-term suspension was reduced to a single term, effective until January 2013. Protesters gathered outside to show their support for Owen, and sat in to listen to the hearing.

The University’s failure to overturn the sentence leaves staff and students deeply disappointed. The Septemviri justified the reduction of the sentence with a desire to be ‘merciful’, while adding menacingly that they may not be so generous in the future. There should be no punishment at all for peaceful political protest, and the precedent set by Owen’s suspension is a very real threat to the freedom of expression within the University.

Nonetheless, the fact that the University has been pressured into moderating the sentence shows the power of protest and solidarity. Our message to the University is that the fight is not over. We will continue to defend the right to protest and to fight for free education. This attempt to intimidate and silence students will not succeed.

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3 responses to “Septemviri imposes one-term suspension”

  1. Ralph says :

    Seems generous to me. The guy stopped a guest speaking. He interfered with free speech. He could have protested outside, or after the speech.

    • David says :

      Yep, tricky one. Once upon a time I would have supported Ralph’s view that even someone like Willetts had a right to speak; the way you protest is you get your best person up there and they engage in debate and make Willetts look an idiot. Twenty years ago I was secure in this belief. But given the lack of democratic accountability of any of the actions of this government, which has no mandate for any of its so-called reforms and will pay no heed to any peaceful protest, I have come to regard direct action as the only way to bring them to account. In coming to this conclusion I feel deeply deeply sad, both for our country and for myself. It comforts me somewhat to look back at the major reforms of the last hundred years and to see they are the result of brave poor and persecuted folk putting themselves on the line for their passionately held humanitarian beliefs. Nice one, Owen. Someone else’s turn now, and we must not weaken in our support.

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