Charlie Hebdo conference: new risk assessment announced

Queen’s Belfast move suggests event could still go ahead, but confusion remains about why conference was cancelled

April 24, 2015

Source: Alamy

Queen’s University Belfast has announced “a full risk assessment” to determine whether a symposium about the Charlie Hebdo murders, cancelled earlier this week, can go ahead.

The event, titled “Understanding Charlie: New perspectives on contemporary citizenship”, was due to take place in June.

On 20 April, the organisers sent an email saying that vice-chancellor Patrick Johnston had decided the symposium should not go ahead because of concerns about “the security risk for delegates and about the reputation of the university”.

On 21 April, however, Queen’s issued a counter-statement that the cancellation was a result of the event’s organisers, the Institute for Collaborative Research in the Humanities, failing to complete the appropriate risk assessment.

After the cancellation attracted much criticism on grounds of academic freedom, the university issued a further statement on 22 April stressing that “Queen’s is, and will remain, a place where difficult issues can be discussed”. It also reported that a new risk assessment had been commissioned, due for completion by 1 May, which would guide the university’s decision-making.

However, a slightly different version of events was provided by one of the people involved with the event. Speaking anonymously, they told Times Higher Education that it was their understanding that a “General Risk Assessment Form” had been completed on 23 March.

Asked for a comment, a spokesman for the university said that, when “a funding application to support the symposium” had been submitted earlier this week, it had not included “a complete risk assessment”, which requires consultation with external bodies such as the police.

In order to “ensure a safe and secure environment for all our staff, students and visitors”, it was this which was being carried out now, the spokesman said.

matthew.reisz@tesglobal.com

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Chair (W3) of Architectural Construction and Design

Technische Universitat Dresden (tu Dresden)

Chair (W3) of Structural Design in Architecture

Technische Universitat Dresden (tu Dresden)

Chair (W2) of Architectural Conservation and Design

Technische Universitat Dresden (tu Dresden)
See all jobs

Most Commented

Doctoral study can seem like a 24-7 endeavour, but don't ignore these other opportunities, advise Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O'Gorman

Laurel and Hardy sawing a plank of wood

Working with other academics can be tricky so follow some key rules, say Kevin O'Gorman and Robert MacIntosh

Matthew Brazier illustration (9 February 2017)

How do you defeat Nazis and liars? Focus on the people in earshot, says eminent Holocaust scholar Deborah Lipstadt

Improvement, performance, rankings, success

Phil Baty sets out why the World University Rankings are here to stay – and why that's a good thing

Warwick vice-chancellor Stuart Croft on why his university reluctantly joined the ‘flawed’ teaching excellence framework