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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 November 2007, 10:59 GMT
Rally over Oxford Union speakers
Nick Griffin (l) and David Irving (r)
Nick Griffin and David Irving are due to speak at the Oxford Union
A rally has taken place in Oxford in protest at two controversial figures speaking at the Oxford Union next week.

Historian David Irving and Nick Griffin, of the British National Party (BNP), have been invited to speak at a free speech event on Monday night.

Mr Irving was imprisoned after pleading guilty to Holocaust denial in Austria, while Mr Griffin is leader of the far-right party.

Among those speaking at the rally were Holocaust survivors.

The Oxford Union said it was important to give people of all views a platform.

I don't think these people should be invited to the Oxford Union, by having them speak, it legitimises their views
Stephen Altmann-Richer,
Co-president of the Oxford University Jewish Society

Mr Griffin also has a controversial past, which includes a 1998 conviction for incitement to racial hatred for material denying the Holocaust.

But in November 2006, Mr Griffin and BNP activist Mark Collett were cleared of a separate accusation of inciting racial hatred after a retrial at Leeds Crown Court.

Mr Griffin has repeatedly insisted the BNP is not a racist group, while Mr Irving denies Holocaust denial saying he had no alternative but to plead guilty at his Austrian trial, at which he was jailed for three years.

The rally was held at Oxford Town Hall on Tuesday evening.

Those attending the rally included: the Oxford Students' Union president, the National Union of Students black students' officer, and the Trades Union Congress south east regional secretary.

Representatives of Unite Against Facism also attended, as well as the University of Oxford's Jewish student chaplin.

Stephen Altmann-Richer, co-president of the Oxford University Jewish Society, told the BBC News website that while freedom of speech was important "it is overshadowed in this instance".

"I don't think these people should be invited to the Oxford Union, by having them speak, it legitimises their views," he said.



SEE ALSO
Profile: Nick Griffin
10 Nov 06 |  UK Politics
Profile: David Irving
20 Feb 06 |  UK

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