Nadhim Zahawi confronted by trans protester at University of Warwick


Nadhim Zahawi

The government said it was evidence of the need to protect freedom of speech on campus (Picture: University of Warwick Conservative Association/PA)

The education secretary had to be escorted off a campus by security staff after trans rights activists stormed a meeting he was attending.

Nadhim Zahawi was giving a talk at the University of Warwick when protesters waving placards burst into the building.

Dozens of people chanting ‘Tory scum’ cut the event short, which had been organised by a student Conservative association. 

One eyewitness told The Telegraph a Tory attendee was struck on the head by one of the mob.

Prior to Mr Zahawi’s attendance, Warwick Pride issued a statement accusing him of playing a ‘significant role in institutional transphobia’.

They said he was guilty of using a ‘transphobic dog-whistle’ by defining a woman as an ‘adult human female’.

The group encouraged its supporters to buy up tickets to the talk and said it was ‘ludicrous’ to suggest he ‘does not incite hatred’.


Grabs: Trans activists chant 'tory scum' at warwick university / Transgender supporters hounded the secretary of state for education on Friday - He was visiting the University of Warwick to speak to the Conservative society

Protesters chanting ‘Tory scum’ stormed an independent event which had been organised by Conservative students (Picture: University of Warwick Conservative Association)


Grabs: Trans activists chant 'tory scum' at warwick university / Transgender supporters hounded the secretary of state for education on Friday - He was visiting the University of Warwick to speak to the Conservative society

Warwick Pride said on Twitter it was their to ‘ask questions’ but supporters turned up with placards and a microphone (Picture: University of Warwick Conservative Association)

A statement issued before the protest also pointed to Mr Zahawi’s support for Kathleen Stock, an academic who resigned from the University of Sussex amid protests over her views on gender identification.

Warwick Pride said its activists were attending with the ‘intention to ask Zahawi questions concerning the rights of trans people in the UK’, adding that it did not condone violence.

But supporters turned up with placards and flags, with one chanting through a microphone.

The government unveiled a new law which it says will protect freedom of speech in British universities, including provision to stop speakers being ‘no-platformed’.

Ministers and some academics warn there is a ‘chilling effect’ of UK campuses dictated by a vocal minority of students, with the government pointing to a Policy Exchange survey which found a third of lecturers with centre-right politics feel they have to self-censor their views at work.


Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi arriving in Downing Street, London, for a Cabinet meeting. Picture date: Tuesday April 26, 2022. PA Photo. Photo credit should read: Yui Mok/PA Wire

The education secretary left surrounded by security personnel (Picture: PA)

Responding to the Warwick incident, an education department spokesperson said the incident ‘proves’ the need for the bill, calling it ‘more evidence against those who say there is no such thing as a chilling culture on campus’.

A spokesperson for the University of Warwick Conservative Association told The Telegraph: ‘The anger and hatred aimed at us that evening only scratches the surface when it comes to revealing what protesters actually feel towards those they disagree with. 

‘There is a general unwillingness to exist alongside those with a difference of opinion on topics that should be open for legitimate discussion. 

‘Chants of ‘Tory scum’ were again unsurprising, due to the role models these protesters rely on for their worldviews.’

Metro has contacted the University of Warwick for a comment.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at [email protected].

For more stories like this, check our news page.

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