Oxford college run by former Stonewall chairman apologises for axing Christian event

An Oxford college has apologised for cancelling a Christian event over unfounded allegations.

Worcester College hosted Christian Concern’s Wilberforce Academy last September, but cancelled a second booking following allegations by a small number of students.

The college, run by former Stonewall chairman David Isaac, has now admitted that an independent review found “no evidence” the organisation acted improperly.

Free speech

Students had complained that the group opposed a ban on so-called conversion therapy and claimed there had been “aggressive leafleting”. But the review noted that the college had acted on the allegations without ever finding a copy of the leaflets.

The college admitted that it was “misleading to suggest that Conference delegates or representatives of Christian Concern acted improperly”, and invited the organisation to speak at a future event.

In a joint statement they noted their mutual “commitment to the right to freedom of speech and religious belief and the dignity of all people”.


Toby Young, Founder and Director of The Free Speech Union, commented: “The mistake Worcester College made was to immediately capitulate to the demands of an activist mob and ban a group from its premises without properly investigating the allegations against it.

“We see this kind of institutional cowardice again and again, particularly in the higher education sector, usually motivated by a desire for a quiet life.

“The way to force these institutions to take their responsibility to uphold free speech more seriously is to make it clear that organisations like ours will create an almighty fuss if they don’t.”


Earlier this month, the Education Secretary called for respectful and courteous debate after he was harassed by LGBT activists at the University of Warwick.

Nadhim Zahawi had to be protected by campus security guards when activists protested outside a talk he was giving to the University’s Conservative Association.

But writing for The Mail on Sunday, Mr Zahawi said their intention to stop his speech and shut down discussion has made him “more convinced than ever that the chilling crushing of free speech needs to be countered”.

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