More farce than threat

November 1, 2012

Richard J. Evans' account of student protests during the Queen's visit to the University of Stirling in 1972 brought back fond memories - I was a member of the students' union council that was collectively punished - but I must trim off some of the glamorous accretions of time ("A right royal rumpus", Opinion, 11 October).

We did not call a "protest" for the day of the visit: we called a meeting of the students for them to decide if they wished to protest. This distinction was missed by the university administration and explains why the case against us fell apart as soon as it was examined by lawyers. That examination and our reinstatement owed more to the dull-but-effective Edinburgh firm of Balfour and Manson than to any radical professor from the London School of Economics.

Jackie McKie, the student apparently raising a bottle (of wine, not whisky - we couldn't afford spirits) to the Queen, was actually 100 yards away from her (that he appeared closer was a camera trick). He had lowered the bottle before she approached and never spoke to her, respectfully or otherwise.

As for the claim that "virtually the entire body of students" was drunk, the tipsy students who were in the same building as the Queen numbered about 10 (one was a young woman dressed as a fairy queen) and were accidentally trapped by locked doors: more farce than threat. It was all sufficiently good humoured that nobody was arrested.

And finally, whatever he has done since, I will always have a soft spot for "Gorgeous" George Galloway because he helped us raise money at the University of Dundee to pay for our defence.

Steve Bruce, Professor of sociology, University of Aberdeen

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