Durham University is a university that takes freedom of speech seriously. It is theoretically true. On its website, the establishment, which dates back to 190 years, has a statement about its policy stating that freedom of speech is essential for democracy and promoting scientific, political and artistic development.

The page-long document explains that Academia is not a place for cancel culture. Of particular significance is the ability of visiting speakers explore controversial topics.

Durham puts it simply: “The University has the legal obligation to take such measures as are reasonably practicable in order to secure freedom of expression for students and staff.”

It explains that all this is protected by laws like the Human Rights Act. As such, every citizen can, George Orwell wrote famously, “tell people things that they do not wish to hear”.

These principles fit perfectly with the culture of a highly regarded seat of education. They will ensure Durham does not fall foul of the Free Speech Bill currently in Parliament.

Rod Liddle was invited by Professor Tim Luckhurst, an old friend and former newspaper editor who is now the College's Principal

Rod Liddle was invited to the College by Professor Tim Luckhurst. He is an old friend, former editor of a newspaper and now Principal.

This law imposes on UK universities the legal obligation to encourage free speech. Is Durham actually able to live up to these lofty standards?

This week’s events suggest the contrary and propelled the university and the 20,000 students to the forefront of campus culture warfare.

As so many controversies have, there are some vexing issues at stake. Is anyone in academia free to question Left-wing conventions?

Is it possible for undergraduates to accept other views without being silenced? Is it possible for universities to encourage insidious cancel cultures?

Rod Liddle is the flashpoint. He’s a former BBC journalist, columnist and well-known controversialist. Rod spent December 3rd at South College. South College is one of 17 “colleges” where Durham students socialize and live.

He was invited by Professor Tim Luckhurst (an old friend, former newspaper editor and now Principal of the College).

This was a formal Christmas dinner at the college’s dining room. It was attended by some 200 students — in suits, ties and academic gowns — who paid £10-a-head for a three-course meal including turkey and trimmings.

Importantly, the vast majority of students didn't know who he was. So they used mobile phones to search for 'Rod Liddle' via Google. Pictured: Durham students protest after Rod Liddle's speech

Most importantly, most students didn’t even know what he was. They used their mobile phones to Google search Rod Liddle via Google. Pictured: Durham students protest after Rod Liddle’s speech

Liddle, his host and several other worthies were seated at the high table. According to university officials, the College was informed of the events and said that arrangements were made.

The columnist was however not announced to students at the time they purchased their tickets. Instead Liddle was introduced right at the end of dinner, when it was also stated that he would only be speaking a few sentences.

The most important thing was that the majority of students did not know his identity. They used their mobile phones to Google for Rod Liddle. Many found a Wikipedia page that detailed incidents where he was accused of “misogyny” or racism in interviews and columns. He has also been criticised for his unflattering comments regarding ‘disabled’ and transgender persons.

A group of 15-20 students swotted through these versions of Liddle’s life and decided they didn’t want to listen. They arranged via telephone message groups to get up at the end of the meal and move out of the room when Liddle was announced. As Professor Luckhurst was introducing the speaker, he loudly called the event ‘pathetic’.

Liddle spoke for just over ten minute and it was well followed.

In the reception area, Luckhurst (pictured) and Liddle were confronted by angry students. Video footage shows Luckhurst telling one critic 'speech does not cause pain' and telling another to 'calm down'

Luckhurst (pictured above) and Liddle faced angry students in the reception area. Video footage captures Luckhurst telling one student that he doesn’t speak out of turn and telling the other to calm down.

Since then, endless claims and counter-claims have been made about its contents. Students groups allege that students who left were subject to abuse including homophobias, transphobias, racisms, and elitism.

Ironically, given that Liddle is a comprehensive-educated son of a train driver from Middlesbrough, the largely middle-class undergraduates also claim he committed an offence called ‘classism’.

Witnesses say that about half a dozen students fled the stage during the speech. It was hard to hear the audience applaud the speech as it ended. While protocol requires guests to Durham’s formal dinners to stand at the end for their high tables to be processed out, almost all students remained seated.

Some shouted “disgusting” and “racist” in general directions.

Luckhurst and Liddle faced angry students in the reception area. The video footage captures Luckhurst telling Liddle that his speech does not cause pain, and another telling her to “calm down”. Dorothy Luckhurst, Luckhurst’s spouse, was also filmed questioning a student about her fears.

An open letter from students claiming to be 'distressed' and 'emotional' due to Liddle's remarks garnered more than 1,000 online signatures. Pictured: A Durham student at the protest

A letter open to students, claiming that Liddle’s comments caused them to feel ‘distressed and emotional’ has received more than 1000 online signatures. Pictured at the protest: Durham student

She was later captured shouting, “arse,” in a chaotic altercation. Isn’t everyone blessed with one?

Mrs Luckhurst has subsequently said her bizarre remarks followed an incident in which she’d been called a ‘b****’.

The students who were responsible for the walkout were also described by her as “a bunch of incompetents”.

Twitter storm broke out after news of the incident spread.

Over the weekend, several student groups including Durham’s Work Class Students’Association and Intersectional Feminism Society made angry statements, alleging that they were ‘insulted’, violated’ and ‘humiliated’ because of having to listen Liddle’s ‘transphobia and race’. The Durham Branch of University and College Union represented lecturers and declared itself to be ‘utterly shocked’.

More than 1,000 students signed an open letter claiming they were ‘distressed’ and ’emotional’ because of Liddle’s remarks. It was signed by several students. One said that Durham was not safe for LGBT people like me. “If there are no repercussions or apology, I don’t see me staying here.”

By Monday, with the affair generating national headlines, Prof Luckhurst had been suspended from public roles and removed from a forthcoming fundraising trip to the U.S. Pictured:  A female student holds a placard at the protest

On Monday morning, the scandal had generated national attention and Prof Luckhurst was removed from all public positions. Pictured:  A female student holds a placard at the protest 

By Monday, with the affair generating national headlines, Prof Luckhurst had been suspended from public roles and removed from a forthcoming fundraising trip to the U.S.

In a statement, he said he was sorry for calling the students who had walked out “pathetic”. He said that they had the same right as me to withdraw from the speech.

“My anger showed my deep commitment to freedom and speech. I regret that I described the actions of students as pathetic. I apologize for this error.

Those words did not calm the situation.

Student union members demanded Luckhurst’s resignation. The student union called for Luckhurst’s resignation, stating that his current position is ‘untenable’.

The protestors gathered at South College holding Black Lives Matter placards, and singing ‘Hey Tim Luckhurst must go!

At this point, it was revealed that Seun twins, president of student union, wasn’t allowed to lecturing others about hate speech. On her Instagram, she wrote that while she doesn’t condone violence and did not support it, sometimes she felt like saying: “We must take the Tories to South London, let the roadmen deal.”

Collins Dictionary says that the term “roadman” refers to a young man who spends time in groups and may be involved with selling drugs.

Durham’s student association responded to the revelations by instructing students groups to “speak out” in support Ms Twins.

Round-robin emails suggested that they could use social media to shift the narrative. It contained the following lines: “Lines we ask you to use in order to frame your reply”

On Wednesday, protesters (pictured) congregated outside South College clutching Black Lives Matter placards and chanting 'Hey, hey, ho, ho, Tim Luckhurst has got to go!'

The protestors (pictured above) gathered at South College holding Black Lives Matter placards, and singing ‘Hey Tim Luckhurst must go!

The university later quoted the one in an official statement on Twitter. This statement said: “Seun Twins are a success story. Durham University is proud for her leadership.

In other words, it appears that the student union of the left seems to be writing university PR statements regarding the controversy.

The crucial question that was overlooked in all of the noise is: What did Rod Liddle actually say to start this conflict? Did his words really offend and prejudice enough to make them a hate-crime, as some critics claim?

This page contains an unabridged transcript that was taken from the recording of the speech. It gives the exact answer.

Liddle began with a topical joke: “I’m disappointed that no of your highly-regarded sex workers are here tonight.”

This is a reference to a controversy that Durham University faced recently. MPs were critical of Durham University’s offering training to students in the sex trade.

 He then explained how he’d become politically engaged as a member of the Socialist Workers’ Party in the 1970s, before meeting Luckhurst while they both worked for the Labour Party in the 1980s, at a time when the party’s leadership was involved in long-running and damaging disputes with its hard-Left.

A round-robin email suggested they use social media to 'shift the narrative'. The email contained 'lines we ask to you to use to frame your response'

Round-robin emails suggested that they could use social media to shift the narrative. Email contained the following lines: “Lines we ask you to use for framing your response”

Liddle then rattled through a host of hot topics — from transgender rights to colonialism and sexual politics. Although his opinion might be different from those of his audience, he argued that they could still benefit by hearing his.

Liddle said that Liddle meant to make the point that today’s left-leaning establishment was ‘intolerant’.

Some people might argue that the response to his speech proved his point.

Professor Antony Long has been acting as Durham’s Vice-Chancellor and launched a formal investigation.

The fate of Luckhurst will be decided by her short-term findings next month.

They will also be an indicator of whether British academia is still a space where people can tell others things that they don’t want to hear, just as George Orwell stated.

 Thought crime or thought-provoking? His speech is revealed

Rod Liddle (61), is an associate editor at The Spectator magazine. He also writes columns for The Sunday Times, and The Sun. He was previously a researcher and speechwriter for the Labour Party before joining BBC Radio 4 where he edited the Today program between 1998 and 2002. Here is the transcript of Liddle’s allegedly offensive speech.

I joined the Socialist Workers Party when I was 16 and we had a lecture from a chap called Allan — a kindly man, a decent man. We were taught about geopolitics, economics, foreign affairs and gender equality.

After that, a steelworker approached me and said, “It’s great for you to vote, lad.” And everything Allan said is absolutely right — apart from the bits about women and homosexuals.’

My doubts regarding the far-Left were not long away. Not so much its ideas — more its intolerance, its intolerance of what others have to say, its absolutism.

Its insistence that it and it alone can be right.

It is often hard to imagine what our reaction would be to today’s culture and climate. If we were younger, we might have hated it as much as we do now. Or maybe we would just have accepted it.

It’s because it is a flawed and authoritarian agenda that I believe is rooted in the ‘tyranny now’. History should be abolished altogether and viewed only through the lens of identity politics, hierarchies and victimhoods of today.

Outspoken: Journalist Rod Liddle

Rod Liddle, Journalist, Outspoken 

The meaning and context of history are thus lost. These people do not see the world as it really is, they only wish that it could be.

It is not permissible for science and facts to interfere in the fantasy world. Today, the liberal Left has made this same mistake.

It is more difficult to disprove by science or facts than it is by their own experience, so they are more vocal about it.

This is the most obvious example. A person who has an X chromosome (and a Y one), and has a long, dangling genital is scientifically classified as a man.

A second aspect of the fairytale world where these people live is their shrieking intolerance for opposing arguments even if they are uncontroversial. They won’t listen.

Similar to colonialism, it can be easily shown that it’s not the main cause of Africa’s problems. It also makes it easy to demonstrate that educational underachievement in British Caribbean-born people or African Americans has nothing to do structural or institutional racism, but rather other more complex factors.

And yet to advocate one of those unequivocal truths is to open yourself up to a whole s***-load of cancelling and screaming and in the end, you lose your job.

Their ideology is so hopelessly flawed that it’s very susceptible to being examined, which is why they shout so loudly.

There is a demand for Boris Johnson to apologise to women who had their babies taken away from them in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s- a line from Mr Liddle's speech at Durham

Boris Johnson must apologize for women who had babies taken from them during the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. This is an excerpt from Mr Liddle’s Durham speech.

One thread pulls it apart and the whole thing unravels like an imbecile’s rainbow-colored jumper. It is difficult to listen to news stories.

Here’s an example of this idea, the ‘tyranny in now’. Boris Johnson is being asked to apologize to the women who lost their children in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1950s. The women who took these babies had been single mothers and were in poor mental condition.

This story has been reported only from one side. It is the problem with the “tyranny now”, which claims that these women were transgressing.

But there is another side to the story, which is that Boris Johnson didn’t apologise to the hundreds of thousands of children who were brought up under strained economic circumstances and later mental health problems, low earnings expectations, run-ins with the police — all of which were far more likely caused by a single parent rather than two parents.

Yet, that is not looked at.

Now, we take a look at Sixties history and see the terrible mistake of taking those children away from women. In the Sixties and Seventies, our attention was on the child. The woman was also not the focus. The child was first and society then, followed by the mother who gave birth to the child.

Liberals believe they’re better than the rest because their primary focus today is on women and not anything else.

This is just one example of stories seen solely through the prism of the ‘tyranny of now’ — that we are not allowed to challenge, or it is very difficult to challenge.

The BBC will never tell you about the other side of that story. All I’m arguing is that there should be a counter-side — for there to be a contrasting argument.

Edmund Burke described doubt as “doubt”. Have doubt in your own belief, just as I have doubt in my mind — I am very often wrong — have doubt in the beliefs of others, have doubts in what you’re told by newspapers.

Never doubt yourself. All else will follow and then we all can live happily together.