Page last updated at 14:48 GMT, Friday, 25 April 2008 15:48 UK

Langham debate cancelled amid row

Chris Langham
Langham was jailed on 15 counts of downloading indecent images

The Oxford Union has withdrawn its invitation for actor Chris Langham, jailed for downloading child pornography, to address students.

The Bafta award-winner was due to give a talk on 27 May about his conviction and his "vilification" in the media.

But the union admitted it had been a "mistake" and said it wanted to avoid protests like those which accompanied BNP leader Nick Griffin last year.

The Kidscape charity said it was a "victory for common sense".

Ben Glazer, spokesman for the Oxford Union, said: "We felt with the negative press and comments surrounding the debate it was over-shadowing the great term of speakers we have booked.

"After protests last term with the BNP we didn't want to upset anyone.

This would be a very prestigious and public platform for someone with this type of conviction
Claude Knights, Kidscape director

"We probably should have realised the uproar it would cause but hindsight is a great thing, it was probably a mistake."

The Kidscape charity, which previously said the booking was "disappointing", welcomed the decision.

Claude Knights, the charity's director, said: "It is a victory for common sense.

"There was a number of people expressing concern that this would be a very prestigious and public platform for someone with this type of conviction.

"We very much believe in free speech but we felt it was a bit premature and soon after his release."

Michael Jackson

The cancellation will not affect other speakers lined up for this term, which includes Tory leader David Cameron, model Jodie Marsh and Spice Girl Geri Halliwell.

The student debate has a history of attracting controversial figures, with recent speakers including historian David Irving and singer Michael Jackson.

Langham was jailed for 10 months at Maidstone Crown Court last September after he was convicted on 15 counts of downloading images of children.

He spent three months in prison, but was released on appeal in November.

His agent declined to comment on the cancellation.


SEE ALSO
Langham to address Oxford Union
18 Apr 08 |  Oxfordshire

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