Statements from Lancaster University, Students’ Union President, VP Union Development, and VP Welfare, and Demilitarise Lancaster about Yesterday’s Margaret Fell Occupation


On Thursday 16th May, students protesting for Palestine entered the Margaret Fell Lecture Theatre, during an afternoon University Council Meeting. This protest was spurred by an afternoon story posted to Demilitarise Lancaster’s official Instagram page of over a thousand followers.


Even though they aimed to read a prepared one-minute statement, they claim they were met with force by a private security group hired by Lancaster University.

One student stated that they were ‘put into a headlock and dragged to the floor’.

“He [a security guard] said it was self-defence but I was literally no threat to them, I’m like 100 pounds”. 

The security guards appear to be from a private company brought in by Lancaster University. 

The students entered the building while a university council meeting was being held in a separate room in the building. 

The group was holding a banner stating ‘LU BLOOD ON YOUR HANDS’.

Last week, Vice-President of Welfare Josh Newsham made a statement that stressed “the well-being of the protestors and students on campus is [the Students’ Union’s] main priority”. 

He went on to ask, “security and police presence on campus meets students with compassion, dignity, and the respect for freedom of speech.” 

His request aligns with the demand by Demilitarise Lancaster, Lancaster Solidarity Camp and Palestine Solidarity Campaign Lancaster that no action is to be taken against staff or students for involvement in the protests.

With the physical escalation of Thursday’s events, many see the security’s actions as going against the terms set by the protest groups and the Student’s Union.

A joint statement by LUSU President Cerys Evans, VP Union Development Harrison Stewart and
VP Welfare Josh Newsham has been released about the situation.

“We are genuinely shocked and appalled at the excessive force we saw used by security on behalf of the University during a student protest on campus yesterday.
“We are ashamed and horrified at what we witnessed as they forcibly moved students who were
demonstrating outside the University Council meeting we were in.
“We took the decision not to attend the rest of the University Council day and dinner to spend time with the students, many of whom had been physically injured and were receiving first aid.

“The protest may have disrupted the meeting, but all protests have an element of disruption. We strongly feel that efforts should have been made to de-escalate the situation rather than resorting to the use of excessive physical force that we witnessed.
“This is a huge and drastic step in the wrong direction and to our knowledge this is the first time a University in the UK has responded like this to protests on the issue.”

The statement continues, going into detail about Vice-President Welfare Josh Newsham’s letter he wrote to the University and the rest of Council as a Student Representative on Council. He said in his letter:

“This is a time to meet students with empathy, respect, and openness; and to listen to the causes they are standing for.”

“We encourage our students to reach out to our confidential Advice Service if they wish to make a formal complaint or seek wellbeing support. You can email”

To read more of their statement, you can read it on the Students’ Union website.

A spokesperson from Demilitarise Lancaster posted on the Instagram account, @NoArmsLancs, has also released a statement about the situation. They have said:

“Members of Demilitarise Lancaster intended to do a banner drop and one-minute speech to University Council (management) […] Despite extensive evidence of BAE Systems’ criminal behaviours, the University has intensified connections with the arms company.”

They continued, talking directly about the situation with security:

“As soon as we arrived, less than a sentence into the speech, security began physically pushing, grabbing and scratching us, leaving individuals with bruises, carpet burns, cuts and broken clothing. Some have required medical attention.”

As this goes against one of the protestors’ demands which is ‘no disciplinary actions against the protestors’, the spokesperson continued saying:

“We are shocked at this unnecessary escalation for what was a peaceful protest.

“It shows that this University is more willing to manhandle and harm its student populations than cut ties with arms companies complicit in genocide.”

To find out more about their statement, you can read it on their Instagram page.

The University has released a statement about the situation in Margaret Fell Lecture Theatre, discussing the security and students’ rights to peaceful and legally protest on campus.

“Students and staff who have been moved to action by the distressing violence in the Middle East have every right to peaceful, legal protest on campus. Our University will support and uphold that right. We also know there will be staff and students who have been personally impacted by the violence in Palestine and Israel and our thoughts are with you.”

They continued:

“On May 16 masked protestors forcibly entered a room where an invited external speaker was speaking and shouted over them, and despite being asked politely to respect the speaker and to leave they continued to drown out the speaker with no indication that they intended to leave. An external security company was asked to ensure that the external speaker could finish. 

“The protest was permitted to continue outside the meeting venue.”

The University discussed their concern about the reports of injuries, stating that:

“We are of course concerned to hear of any reports of injuries and would encourage students to report this formally so we can investigate.  We are reviewing footage and events with our security provider.”

Their statement continued:

“The University will not tolerate any illegal or unauthorised activity that fundamentally impedes the legitimate business of the University, or risks the safety and wellbeing of our staff and students. The need for our students, staff and visitors on our campus to move around freely and without fear of harassment, and to freely express their views, including at Council, is of paramount importance to us.”

The statement states that the university has been in contact with the Students’ Union, formally recognised representatives  of the student body, and related student societies regarding the events in the Middle East:

“Since the events of October 7th, the University representatives have been in regular contact with the Students’ Union as the formally recognised representatives of the student body and the related student societies concerned about events in the Middle East.”

The statement ends with the university saying:

“The University remains committed to upholding the right to freedom of speech for our staff and students and enabling them to peacefully protest within the law, and its own regulations. Universities are places for people to express their views and listen to those of others – including those they do not agree with.

The University continues to operate as normal and we will show no tolerance towards hate speech of any kind.”

They have also told SCAN about their work with BAE Systems and that:

“Our investment policy [with BAE Systems], entered into through close working with the Students’ Union, works with funds that do not invest in arms companies and the University does not hold any investments in BAE.”

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