Protests planned for Strauss-Kahn Cambridge speech

By Jessica Elgot, March 9, 2012
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Dominique Strauss-Kahn will speak at the Cambridge Union

Dominique Strauss-Kahn will speak at the Cambridge Union

Two protesters have been arrested for apparently vandalising the Cambridge Union, ahead of a talk by controversial French economist Domique Strauss-Kahn.

The Cambridge News reported that the walls and grounds of the Cambridge Union building were defaced with posters, paint and chalk, with slogans including “This House supports rape culture”. The newspaper said a 20-year-old man and a 21-year-old woman were in custody, on suspicion of causing criminal damage.

The former head of the International Monetary Fund was forced to resign last year after he was accused of sexually assaulting a hotel maid in New York. The charges were dropped, but claims are being pursued through the civil courts.

The university’s Women’s Campaign has called for the talk to be cancelled, and denounced the inappropriate timing, the day after Interna t ional Women’s Day. Activists have presented a petition with 700 signatures, and protests are planned ahead of the talk.

The union said Mr Strauss-Kahn had been invited before the charges made against him, in his capacity as an economist.

The President of the Cambridge Union Society, Katie Lam, denied the invitation had been made on the basis of Mr Strauss-Kahn’s controversial reputation. "In order for us to be a neutral forum promoting free speech, without caveats or conditions, we can't engage in any kind of judgment on people."

A Cambridge University spokesman said: "The university respects academic freedom and freedom of speech."

Last updated: 4:07pm, March 9 2012