A Conservative MP was pelted with rocks, eggs and tomatoes as he was due to give a talk at the University of Sussex.
Mike Weatherley, MP for Hove, East Sussex, had been invited by the Conservative Society at the University to debate squatting laws. The format of the event had previously been changed from a lecture after coming under fire on Facebook.
Weatherley has been a target of criticism from squatters since his election to Parliament in 2010, due to his campaigning for the criminalisation of squatting.
Despite the incident taking place on campus, the University of Sussex denied student involvement.
“We believe that the violent disruption was led by activist protestors from outside of the University, not by our students”, said Vice-Chancellor Professor Michael Farthing.
“The Squatter’s Network of Brighton, however, rebuffed these claims.
“There were students, squatters, and supporters present”, read a statement on their website. “The government consultation on squatting came out as 90% opposed to banning squatting, [which] is why a broad range of people chased him off campus today”.
Just before the debate was about to start, a group of around 50 people surrounded him, shouting “Whatever they say, squatting will stay”.
“As soon as I walked in to the lecture theatre, someone attempted to punch me”, explained Weatherley.
Campus security escorted the MP to a room in a different part of the campus while the group followed throwing rocks, eggs and tomatoes at him. He was eventually escorted to safety in the back of a police van.
“Weatherley was literally chased away[…] woo hoo!”, tweeted Sanjeedah Choudhury, an Associate Tutor at the University of Sussex.
“We condemn the behaviour of these individuals”, said Matt Boughton, President of the University of Sussex Conservative Society. “Our society will not allow violent groups to impeach our freedoms.”
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