Written by Student Rights on 20 February 2013 at 12pm

Sky News: Marine Le Pen Greeted By Protest At Cambridge

19th February 2013

The leader of the French Front National has been greeted by an anti-fascist protest as she addressed a Cambridge University debating group.

Marine Le Pen, the daughter of the party's founder Jean Marie Le Pen, addressed students at the Cambridge Union debating society this afternoon.

Her appearance caused controversy, with anti-fascist group Unite Against Fascism organising a demonstration of about 200 people outside the famous venue.

Officers from Cambridgeshire Police attended to prevent trouble.

Mrs Le Pen, 44, has been an MEP since 2004. She spoke about the future of the European Union and French politics.

A spokesman for the Cambridge Union Society defended the decision to invite her to speak.

"We welcome the opportunity to discuss, debate, and challenge an individual who has had an unquestionable impact on French and European politics," he said.

"Whether you agree with her politics or not, this event represents one of the very few opportunities a British audience has had to directly engage with Mrs Le Pen, who finished third in the last French presidential election, behind Hollande and Sarkozy, and who currently sits in the European Parliament as a democratically elected representative."

Student Rights, a group supporting equality, democracy and freedom from extremism on university campuses, called for the university to investigate the decision to invite Mrs Le Pen to speak.

In a statement, it added: "Universities do have a duty to uphold freedom of speech, but they are no place for the promotion of fascist views, and university authorities have a duty of care to their students to protect them from those who would promote hatred."

The appearance has provoked added controversy because it comes in the same week that the English Defence League, a far-right pressure group, is marching through Cambridge.

Other speakers at the Union this month include Downton Abbey actor Hugh Bonneville, ex-England football manager Fabio Capello and the illusionist David Blaine.