The Scoop can exclusively reveal that Vice-Chancellor, Doctor Patrick Johnson, has emailed QUB staff to outline his reasons for cancelling a two day Charlie Hebdo conference which was scheduled to take place on the University campus in June.
The email reads as follows:
As you are probably aware, there has been media coverage this week in relation to the ‘Understanding Charlie’ Symposium scheduled to take place in June.
I thought it was therefore important to communicate directly with you on this matter, to both clarify and correct some of the inaccurate comments and reports.
Earlier this week a funding application to support the Symposium was submitted. This application was declined on the basis of the absence of a complete risk assessment. Unfortunately this was not how the decision was reported more widely.
In line with due process, the University has now commissioned a full risk assessment of the Symposium. The assessment is expected to be completed by next Friday and will inform the University’s decision about whether the Symposium should go ahead.
Queen’s University has a proud tradition of discussing difficult and cutting-edge issues and while I am Vice-Chancellor this will continue. However, in engaging with such issues, we must ensure a safe and secure environment for all our staff, students and visitors.
As an academic and Vice-Chancellor of this institution, I am completely committed to academic freedom and free speech. These freedoms are the bedrocks for academic institutions and society.
Queen’s is and will remain a place where ideas can be freely exchanged and discussed.
Professor Patrick G Johnston
President and Vice-Chancellor
As far as we are aware, an event organised by the School of Law at QUB, in which Rt Hon Lord Justice Girvan will address issues of freedom of speech and religion including a discussion about Charlie Hebdo, will still take place in the Canada Room on Thursday 30th April 2015.
The Scoop contacted QUB’s Office of Communication and External Affairs to confirm this information at the beginning of the week. We are still awaiting a reply.
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