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Willetts cancels lecture due to student protest pressure

Birkbeck, University of London has cancelled a lecture by universities and science minister David Willetts for fear that it would be disrupted by a student protest against the rise in tuition fees.

Willetts was scheduled to give the JD Bernal Memorial Lecture on 18 October on Birkbeck’s campus in London. It was open to the public.

On 16 October lecture organisers at Birkbeck sent an email to attendees stating: “Birkbeck has growing evidence of plans to seriously disrupt the event.” The email explained that the lecture was due to cover Bernal’s interest in science with social consequences and said, “The anticipated disruption would not be in the spirit of such a memorial event.”

More than 100 people had registered to join the protest, according to a Facebook group set up for the protest. The group called Willetts a “scourge of students [and] capitalist scoundrel”.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills did not respond to a request for comment.