"Lancaster's George Fox Six are model students, not criminals"
26 September 2005
Local Green Party councillors joined with Quakers, students and academics outside Lancaster magistrates' court this morning to support 6 students at the start of their trial for 'aggravated trespass' after they disrupted a 'Corporate Venturing' conference at Lancaster University last September.
Corporate Venturing Conferences bring together academics and multinational coporations to discuss collaborative research. The guests at the conference included science minister Lord Sainsbury and arms manufacturers BAe Systems. The students entered the conference room, waved placards and handed out leaflets highlighting the environmental destruction and human rights abuses the companies were involved in.
Speaking today local Green Party Councillor Dr Anne Chapman said:
"This is a sad day for free speech and civil liberties. Students should clearly have the right to protest at what is being done at their university, and not be prosecuted for it. Their protest has highlighted the unethical behaviour of the some of these companies, and also the increasing involvement of the corporate world in academia. Coporate funding of academic research is now at the level where it threatens the independence of academics and their ability to be impartial on important issues, such as GM crops. Our universities should be places for the development of skills and knowledge for public benefit, not the benefit of a few corporations."