Video shows Education Secretary being ushered away by security guards at Warwick University after he was pursued by student protesters
Tom Garth, 20, the Conservative association’s chairman and a politics student, told The Telegraph: “As Zahawi was leaving the second, members-only talk, protesters rushed towards him and one landed a blow on to one of our executive members’ head, our events secretary, although he wasn’t injured.
“They were positioned outside the lecture hall, banging on the doors and blasting music too. Then when Zahawi was exiting with security, they continued and tried to follow him all the way to his car, trying to get as close as possible to him.”
It comes as the Education Secretary is spearheading the Government’s new academic freedom Bill, which will allow universities and students’ unions to be fined or sued for censorship and no-platforming speakers.
He stridently defended Kathleen Stock, the leading philosophy professor, when she was targeted by trans activists at Sussex University last year in another major trans row, which was cited by Warwick Pride in its open letter.
A Department for Education source said: “This proves the need for the Freedom of Speech Bill and is more evidence against those who say there is no such thing as a chilling culture on campus.”
The protesters, some of whom were masked, also chanted “LGB with the T”, “no space for transphobes” and “trans rights are human rights”, according to the event hosts.
The activists also reportedly tried to gain entry to Mr Zahawi’s campus talk by obtaining tickets. University officials are set to make a formal complaint to Warwick students’ union about the incident, it is understood.
A spokesman for the University of Warwick Conservative Association said following the incident: “We were thankful to the campus community safety team for the work they did to help us run the event, without them it would not have been safe to hold the event both for members or the Secretary of State.
“The anger and hatred aimed at us that evening only scratches the surface when it comes to revealing what protesters actually feel towards those they disagree with.
“There is a general unwillingness to exist alongside those with a difference of opinion on topics that should be open for legitimate discussion. Chants of ‘Tory scum’ were again unsurprising, due to the role models these protesters rely on for their worldviews.”
The University of Warwick and the Department for Education were contacted for comment. Warwick Pride said it did not condone any violent behaviour.