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Oxford college misled students over cancelled Christian conference

Freedom of Speech
22 June 2022
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The University of Oxford has admitted to "misleading" students over the circumstances surrounding a Christian conference being cancelled.

Last year, officials at Worcester College, Oxford apologised for causing "distress" to students by hosting Wilberforce Academy, a training programme by charity Christian Concern.

A booking at the college by the charity in 2022 was also cancelled following complaints by students who took offence at its Christian beliefs.

Christian concern threatened legal action against the college after statements which threatened to impugn the charity's reputation.

Worcester College is run by David Isaac, a former chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and previously a chairman of LGBT charity Stonewall.

In a joint statement with Christian Concern this week, the college said it was committed to upholding free speech. Christian Concern has also been invited to speak at a future debate held by the college. The statement reads: "Worcester College and Christian Concern have met to reaffirm their mutual commitment to the right to freedom of speech and religious belief and the dignity of all people.

"After detailed examination of the circumstances of Christian Concern's conference in September 2021, Worcester College acknowledges that notwithstanding various accounts of events it was misleading to suggest that Conference delegates or representatives of Christian Concern acted improperly in an email to students in September 2021 which was subsequently leaked to the Cherwell Student newspaper.

"Worcester College did not act with the intention of impugning Christian Concern or its reputation. In a world where differing views are strongly and sincerely held it is important to come together and listen to each other. To that end, Worcester has invited Christian Concern to speak at a debate which will take place as soon as can be arranged. Worcester looks forward to welcoming Christian Concern back to College."

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