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Last Updated: Saturday, 24 November 2007, 12:32 GMT
BNP to speak to Oxford students
Nick Griffin (L) and David Irving (R)
Nick Griffin and David Irving are due to speak at the Oxford Union
The Oxford Union has voted to allow the British National Party (BNP) leader and a controversial historian to speak at a free speech event on Monday.

Despite opposition, the Oxford Union Debating Society members voted by a margin of 2 to 1 to continue to extend an invite to the BNP's Nick Griffin.

David Irving, who was jailed for Holocaust denial, will also be invited.

The move was opposed by the Oxford Student Union and the university's Muslim and Jewish societies.

Luke Tryl, president of the Oxford Union Debating Society, said "the men were not being given a platform to extol their views, but were coming to talk about the limits for free speech".

"They will be speaking in the context of a forum in which there will be other speakers to challenge and attack their views in a head to head manner," he said.

Jailed

Mr Griffin, the leader of the far-right party, has repeatedly insisted the BNP is not a racist group.

He was convicted in 1998 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 Irving was imprisoned for three years after pleading guilty to Holocaust denial in Austria.

But he denied being a Holocaust denier as he said he had no alternative but to plead guilty to the charge.

The union said all tickets for the event, which were only available to its members - who are mainly students - had gone.

A rally in protest at the invitation was held on Tuesday and among those speaking there were Holocaust survivors.

Stephen Altmann-Richer, co-president of the Oxford University Jewish Society, said that while freedom of speech was important it was "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.



VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Luke Tryl explains the controversial invitation



SEE ALSO
Rally over Oxford Union speakers
21 Nov 07 |  Oxfordshire
Profile: Nick Griffin
10 Nov 06 |  UK Politics
Profile: David Irving
20 Feb 06 |  UK

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