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  1. ITV Report

Jacob Rees-Mogg 'scuffle': Politicians condemn protester that storm university debate

Politicians from across the political divide have condemned protesters who prompted a scuffle at a university campus where Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg had been invited to speak.

Video footage posted to social media captured the scenes at the University of the West England, in Bristol on Friday.

Several people, not believed to be students, interrupted the event held by the university's Politics and International Relations Society, where the MP for North East Somerset was giving an address.

Tory former universities minister Jo Johnson posted on Twitter that the incident is “another repugnant example of threats to freedom of speech on campus - a problem many recently insisted entirely imaginary.”

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Lib Dem former business minister Jo Swinson said she was “appalled by scenes from Bristol today,” while Labour shadow minister for education Angela Rayner tweeted: “My politics are not those of Jacob Rees-Mogg however l utterly condemn the behaviour of those tonight who tried to attack him whilst he was due to speak at an event he was invited to.”

Labour MPs Yvette Cooper and Darren Jones also tweeted their concern over the incident, while Tory Minister for Universities, Science, Research & Innovation Sam Gyimah said he was “extremely disappointed that a genuine opportunity to engage in debate was nearly thwarted by thuggish behaviour.”

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Footage shared on Facebook by 'The Jackdaw' showed one man, wearing a hoodie and dark glasses tell the MP his opinions "weren't worth debating" before the scuffle broke out.

Another video showed approximately seven protesters, some covering their faces, confronting Mr Rees-Mogg while other people chanted "Rees-Mogg" and "free speech" in support of the MP.

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One of the protesters accused another man of hitting a woman as the melee intensified.

Avon and Somerset Police said an investigation into a "public order incident" at the university is underway. No arrests have been made.

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UWE Bristol said in a statement: "We are absolutely appalled by the conduct of a small number of attendees."

It added: "It is our understanding at this stage that a small group of protesters broke into the lecture theatre where the event was due to take place via the back doors.

"The police were called and our security attended.

"We understand that these protesters were not UWE Bristol students and did not have tickets for the event."

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UWE Bristol also thanked Mr Rees-Mogg for his "composure and actions" diffusing "a challenging and unprovoked incident".

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The Politics and International Relations Society released a statement on Facebook saying: "We're sorry the event was overshadowed by the actions of a few non-students.

"Not least because it detracts from the great attitude that UWE students have towards debate and challenging political opinions: as exhibited by the record turnout."

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