UPDATE: The lawyer of an alleged DSK victim has taken the Union to task at a Womens’ Campaign event.
READ our full report on DSK’s Union talk HERE.
UPDATE – 4.00pm
Speaking in Cambridge, the lawyer of an alleged DSK victim described the forthcoming speech as “a charade” and an “affront to all victims of sexual crime.”
Douglas Wigdor, lawyer to New York hotel maid Nafissatou Diallo, flew in from the USA last night to speak at the Law Faculty at the invitation of the Women’s Campaign.
He attacked the Union for allowing DSK to “[use] a prestigious university to further his political means.”
“The history of the union is now going to be intertwined with Strauss-Khan. I do not blame Strauss-Khan, I blame the Union.”
“Diallo wants you to know that she is determined to stand up for her dignity.”
Union President Katie Lam said: “We invited Mr Strauss-Kahn while he was still head of the IMF and well before the international interest surrounding him.”
“In order for us to be a neutral forum promoting free speech, without caveats or conditions, we can’t engage in any kind of judgement on people.”
UPDATE – 11.30am
Two campaigners have been arrested for defacing the Cambridge Union overnight in the run up to the DSK talk.
Graffiti at the Union – photo by Devon Buchanan
A 20-year-old man and a 21-year-old woman were taken into custody today after slogans protesting the former head of the IMF’s appearance in Cambridge were painted on the walls of the Union.
The messages on the building included “DSK DIE”, “Women deserve better” and “This house supports rape culture”.
CUSU Women’s Campaign, who have thus far co-ordinated to protests against Strauss-Kahn, have moved quickly to distance themselves from the vandalism.
Ruth Graham, CUSU women’s officer, told The Tab that she “had no idea that this was going to happen or that there was an intentional campaign [of vandalism].”
She continued that the official CUSU campaign would consist of a speaker event followed by a peaceful protest.
DSK’s talk in Cambridge this evening will go ahead, after the petition for his disinvitation has been rejected by the Union.
The CUSU Women’s Campaign’s 700-strong petition was delivered to the Union earlier this week, along with an open letter denouncing DSK’s invitation as a “callous desire to exploit gender crime allegations in the service of controversy.”
DSK: Still coming after all this time
The committee made their official response yesterday evening, saying they “will not be rescinding [their] invitation to Mr Strauss-Kahn.
“He was not invited after or as a result of the circumstances surrounding his departure from the IMF. We would like to add that the purpose of the Union is to provide a neutral platform for free speech.”
The Women’s Campaign has planned a day of protest against DSK before his 7.30pm speech.
In the afternoon the lawyer of the hotel maid who claimed DSK sexually assaulted her will speak at the Law Faculty. A statement from French journo Tristane Banon – who claims DSK tried to rape her in 2002 – will also be read out. Protesters will then march on the Union and protest outside until he begins.
Citing massive demand, the Union will issue tickets to members by random ballot, as opposed to its usual queuing policy.
Tickets haven’t been issued yet, but Union sources indicate that attendees will be informed by 10am today.
Official media presence has been banned at DSK’s request.