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Investigation findings - 'Security of Israel' event

Posted on 05/02/2016
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5/2/16 - Publication of Investigation into events surrounding the talk by Ami Ayalon, organised by KCL Israel Society and LSE Israel Society, on 19 January

“We have conducted a swift and comprehensive investigation into the events which took place during the talk by Ami Ayalon, organised by KCL Israel Society and LSE Israel Society, on 19 January.

The findings of this investigation are published today in a report which concludes that a number of individuals intentionally disrupted the rights of others to exercise freedom of speech within the law. Those individuals who chose to behave inappropriately crossed a line and should be held accountable for doing so. 

The report concludes there is sufficient evidence of misconduct which constitutes a major infringement of the regulations against those who chose to participate in the protest inside the Norfolk Building and recommends referral to a Disciplinary Committee. 

As the majority of the students involved in entering the Norfolk Building were not King’s students, we will assist other London institutions in any way we can to take action under their disciplinary procedures. 

Accepting all the findings and recommendations of the report, Professor Ed Byrne, President and Principal of King’s, said: ‘We have a duty to uphold freedom of speech within the law and will fight against intolerance wherever it is found. Intimidating behaviour is completely unacceptable and goes against everything that we stand for at King’s.  We do not, and will not, condone the use of any form of violent protest.’

Prior to the conclusion of the investigation, the Principal extended an invitation to Ami Ayalon to return to King’s and he has accepted.”

 

Article submitted to the Jewish Chronicle by President and Principal Professor Edward Byrne AC on 28 January 2016 - full text

I am grateful to the Jewish Chronicle for giving me this opportunity to respond to the understandable concern expressed about the distressing reports of violent protests during a talk given by Ami Ayalon on our campus on 19 January 2016, organised by KCL Israel Society and LSE Israel Society.  Let me reaffirm that King’s is proud of its excellent links to the Jewish community and its developing programme of Israel studies. We are opposed to all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism, and to any form of disruptive action that might interfere with the university’s core purpose to promote scholarship and learning. 

Universities play a vital role in society as safe environments where open and uncensored debate can and must take place without fear of intimidation, not least as a way of encouraging students to learn to think for themselves and form their own opinions.

Our diversity is one of our greatest strengths and we are absolutely committed to respect for all of our staff and students and to peaceful and respectful dialogue where people have conflicting views.

There is no excuse for the reported behaviour of a vocal minority of protesters last week and I have appointed our Head of Administration and College Secretary to conduct an urgent investigation. He will establish an accurate record of what happened, whether King’s students alone or individuals external to university were involved, and what actions might need to be taken as a consequence in line with our regulations. 

We will also examine the arrangements put in place to organise and manage the event and whether any changes or improvements to our policies may be needed. The Terms of Reference are available on our website and the findings will be published in early February.

Intimidating behaviour is completely unacceptable and goes against everything that we stand for at King’s.  We do not, and will not, condone the use of any form of violent protest. The safety of our students, staff and the general public is paramount to us and we are committed to acting as a responsible organisation.   

We have a duty to uphold freedom of speech within the law and will fight against intolerance wherever it is found. Our 260 student societies and activity groups hold hundreds of events a year across our five central London campuses, many of which involve external speakers and pass without incident. However, we are not complacent and continue to review our processes. 

While the investigation is underway I have reminded all of our students to be respectful of their peers’ rights to hold different opinions from their own and to debate these in a peaceful and constructive way through the many channels which exist at King’s and outside the university.

This is the way we will protect freedom of speech at our university and ensure that all our students, whatever their background, can debate safely without fear of intimidation or violent behaviour.

The edited version of this response which appeared in the Jewish Chronicle can be accessed online: http://www.thejc.com/node/152881 

 

 

Email from President & Principal Professor Edward Byrne AC to students on 21 January 2016

Dear students,

I am writing to you following the distressing reports of events which took place during Ami Ayalon’s talk at King’s on 19 January, which was organised by KCL Israel Society and LSE Israel Society.

Universities create environments in which debate from all sides on issues of political, scientific, moral, ethical and religious significance is possible, and King’s is no exception.

We are proud of our diverse community and are absolutely committed to respect for all of our staff and students and to peaceful and respectful dialogue where people have conflicting views.

Intimidating behaviour is completely unacceptable and goes against everything that we stand for at King’s. We do not, and will not, condone the use of any form of violent protest.

I have appointed Ian Creagh, Head of Administration and College Secretary, to conduct an urgent investigation of the events around the talk to establish what happened and whether action might need to be taken as a consequence. That investigation will determine whether or not King’s students were involved.

At King’s we go to great lengths to protect free speech on campus and accept that peaceful protest has an important role to play in society.

However, I would urge all students to be respectful of their peers’ rights to hold different opinions and to debate these in a peaceful and constructive way through the many channels which exist at King’s and outside the university. This is the way we will protect freedom of speech at our university.

The safety of our students, staff and the general public is paramount to us and we all have a part to play in ensuring that no member of our community feels threatened or intimidated.

Kind regards

Professor Edward Byrne 
President & Principal

 

Terms of reference of investigation conducted by Head of Administration and College Secretary

Purpose

The purpose of the investigation of the incident that occurred on the evening of 19 January 2016 at the event jointly organised by the KCL and LSE Israel Societies and held in the Norfolk Building on the Strand Campus is to establish:

1. An accurate record of what occurred at the event which led to it being discontinued; 
2. Whether there is evidence of behaviour contrary to the provisions of polices governing events held on campus, the academic regulations and student and staff safety-related policies; 
3. The arrangements put in place to organise and manage the event; and 
4. Policy changes and improvements to event management which will need to be considered for the conduct of future events where respectful dialogue and debate can take place between people who hold different views.

Investigation arrangements

The Head of Administration and College Secretary will conduct the investigation. He will be assisted by internal and external support as necessary. All relevant parties will be contacted and given the opportunity to provide their views within the confines of the Investigation Terms of Reference.

The investigation report and recommendations will be addressed to the President and Principal for any further action.

 

 

Statement regarding the ‘Security of Israel’ event with external speaker Ami Ayalon, organised by KCL Israel Society and LSE Israel Society on 19 January 2016.

‘Universities create environments in which debate from all sides on issues of political, scientific, moral, ethical and religious significance is possible, and King’s is no exception. The safety of our students, staff and the general public is paramount to us and we are committed to acting as a responsible organisation. 

Professor Ed Byrne, President & Principal, has appointed Ian Creagh, Head of Administration and College Secretary, to conduct an urgent investigation of the events around last night’s talk to establish what happened and what action might need to be taken as a consequence. Professor Byrne will also be writing to students to remind them that violent protest is totally unacceptable and that we expect them to be tolerant and respectful of others’ views and opinions.

We are proud of our diverse community and are absolutely committed to respect for all of our staff and students and to peaceful and respectful dialogue where people have conflicting views. We do not, and will not, condone the use of any form of violent protest.’

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