Despite credible allegations that the PR outfit Bell Pottinger organised the whole event, James Kingston comes up with a different version and stands 'by my invitation to the President, and had looked forward to his speech with great excitement'. James Kingston also seems to assert that no one else holds power in the Oxford Union while claiming ownership for the decision to pull the plug on the 'largest demonstration seen in the history of Oxford'
Many thanks for your email; I entirely understand why you might feel moved to ask me these further questions. The decision made to cancel the President’s talk was an incredibly serious one, and one I did not take lightly.
I made it after consulting other Union office bearers, the Police, and representatives of the University as a whole. The police advised me that, though they had a plan in place, they could not guarantee the behaviour of the crowd, not that it would not grow further. I was advised there was a serious public order risk, and a serious risk of major disruption to the activities of the local community. At 5000 protesters, it would have been the largest demonstration seen in the history of Oxford, and the risks would have increased accordingly.
I was further advised by the Union’s own security team that the Union would have been put at great risk of break in by the protesters: in 2007, at a smaller protest, the crowd had rushed over the walls and into the building. I could not put President of Sri Lanka under this risk.
The President was informed by the Union that the cancellation took place; I was asked by a member of the President’s liaison team to fax a letter in to the High Commission, and did so. It would have been a grave discourtesy not to so notify the President, and it is not one the Oxford Union would commit. I was in extensive communication with members of the President’s liaison team prior to this point.
I had no meetings with Tamil activists. The Union holds an apolitical stance; we do not make political gestures. I stand by my invitation to the President, and had looked forward to his speech with great excitement; however, this decision was taken purely upon security grounds and no other.
This decision was made after full consultation with other Union office holders. The University holds no power in the Union.