Criticism All Round Following Glasgow University Sit-In

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UNIVERSITY OF GLASGOW
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PRESS ASSOCIATION -- University bosses, police and protesters have been criticised after attempts to end a long-running sit-in at a leading university resulted in "considerable public disorder and disturbance".

An inquiry into the unrest at the University of Glasgow's Hetherington Building found Strathclyde Police had "no legal authority" for their efforts to remove some protesters on March 22 this year.

University officials were also criticised for their "opportunistic" attempt to bring the occupation to an end that day, "taken without due consideration of the possible outcomes".

The probe also found that those involved in the occupation of the building went "beyond legitimate protest".

Students protesting against higher education cuts moved into the former postgraduate research club in University Gardens on February 1, beginning an occupation which ran on for seven months to the end of August.

University rector Charles Kennedy, a former leader of the Liberal Democrats, chaired an inquiry into the events of March 22, in which attempts by the university to bring the protest to an end escalated to the stage where dozens of police officers and a police helicopter were reportedly on the scene.

The inquiry concluded that the university's management of the occupation before that day was "professional, considered and appropriate". It said the low-key approach was a "sensible one" in the circumstances and "may well have been successful in bringing the occupation to an end".

But the inquiry report added: "By contrast, the decision on March 22 to adopt the 'opportunistic approach' to bring the occupation to an end was taken without due consideration of the possible outcomes.

"The inquiry is satisfied that it was not an attempt to 'evict' the occupiers but instead an attempt to secure the premises and prevent further access. The inquiry is of the view that the decision taken was one which ought to have been recognised as likely to give rise to significant problems."

It went on: "Events moved very quickly indeed following the attempt to secure the building. In the inquiry's opinion there was an early opportunity for the university to defuse the situation by abandoning the attempt to control access to the building. This opportunity was not recognised, arguably because there was no effective command and control of the operation in place."

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