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Scuffles at Strauss-Kahn protest

Two demonstrators were arrested after clashing with police while French politician Dominique Strauss-Kahn addressed one of the UK's most famous university debating societies.

Trouble flared outside the Cambridge Union Society on Friday night as the former head of the International Monetary Fund, who was accused of sexually assaulting a maid, gave a private speech about economics to hundreds of students.

Around 150 demonstrators from the university's student union Women's Campaign gathered outside the building after marching through Cambridge in protest against the event.

The group said they were angered by the society's apparent decision to invite Mr Strauss-Kahn because "of his former economic position and alleged criminal notoriety".

The French economist was rushed into a side entrance of the hall by security guards, who scuffled with photographers and a demonstrator, about an hour before he spoke. He said nothing to waiting journalists - who were barred from listening to the speech - and would not answer their questions.

A ring of steel was set up around the building with security staff guarding entrances and fences erected to keep demonstrators at bay. But a group tried to scale barriers at the back of the hall before two protesters were carried away by police.

A police spokeswoman said a 19-year-old man had been arrested on suspicion of assaulting police and a 23-year-old woman arrested on suspicion of breaching the peace. Two people arrested earlier in the day on suspicion of causing criminal damage, after graffiti appeared on the union building, remain in custody, she added.

Mr Strauss-Kahn was accused of sexually assaulting a maid in New York last year. Charges against him were dropped.

Students who had been in the audience said Mr Strauss-Kahn was asked one question about the incident, following the speech, and told listeners that he had been "acquitted". He was also asked about protesters and said they could "do what they want", students added.

Protesters had suggested that society officials saw allegations of sexual assault as "titillation". But society leaders defended their decision to invite Mr Strauss-Kahn - and to ban journalists from the talk.


From Belfast Telegraph