Disruptive audience members ejected from University debateby Alex Wynick
at University of Exeter 24th October 2011 14:16:41
Three members of the public were removed from a debate, hosted by the University of Exeter’s Debating Society.
The motion ‘This House believes that nuclear power is unsafe’ sparked controversy at the debate on Friday 14th October,when the guest speakers were hit with shouting, swearing and heckling from some of the gather audience
Ben Jones, President of DebSoc, having his repeated requests for calm and quiet ignored, called university security who escorted the female hecklers out of the hall under police supervision, and to a large round of applause.
MEP for the Green Party Keith Taylor, guest speaker for the proposition, was the only person out of the 150 people present who objected to their removal, and walked out in protest. He said: “I was shocked at this heavy handed and draconian approach which sat ill with my understanding of how a debating society meeting should be conducted and I walked out in support of the ejected audience members.”
The opposition to the motion eventually won the closing vote, with four out of five people opposing the motion.
Roger Hemler, guest speaker for the opposition, said at the time: “If you’d behaved like that in the European Parliament, you’d have been removed too” and later wrote on his blog: “I am [...] certain that the antics of these green zealots inclined the audience against the motion.”
Security staff had been hired for the debate as a precaution due to recent protests at Hinkley Point EDF Energy nuclear plant, where 200 people protested for nine hours. Nigel Knee, Head of Nuclear Power at EDF energy and another guest speaker for the opposition commented that he’d recognised the women from previous protests and: “I was impressed by the way the chairman retained order throughout.”