Disgraced Dominique Strauss-Kahn gives Cambridge Union address flanked by 6 bodyguards | Daily Mail Online

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Bundled through a side door to escape the angry mob: Disgraced DSK gives Cambridge Union address flanked by six burly bodyguards

  • Angry scenes as more than 200 student protesters demonstrate against Dominique Strauss-Kahn's speech at Cambridge University Union
  • Demonstrators tried to scale fences to interrupt the event with two carried away by police

By Claire Ellicott for the Daily Mail

Published: 10:18 EDT, 9 March 2012 | Updated: 07:57 EDT, 10 March 2012



The former IMF chief accused of sexually assaulting a chambermaid was bundled through a side door as he arrived to speak to the Cambridge University Union last night.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn was met by a crowd of as many as 200 student protesters objecting to his speech at the world-famous debating society.

Security was tight at the sold-out event and spectators were not admitted unless they surrendered their phones and agreed to be searched.


Anger: Protesters and security staff clash during a demonstration yesterday against Dominique Strauss-Kahn's attendance at Cambridge University Union where he gave a speech

Tight security: The former IMF chief was greeted by a crowd of about 200 student protesters objecting to his speech at the world-famous debating society. In this image a man is held by police during the demonstration

Fury: Security was tight at the sold-out event and spectators were not admitted unless they surrendered their phones and agreed to be searched

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.


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Protesters fought with police outside the hall where Strauss-Kahn was addressing one of the UK's most famous university debating societies.

Demonstrators tried to scale fences at the back of the building to interrupt the event and two 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.

Security: Dominique Strauss-Kahn talking at the controversial Cambridge Union Society event. He is flanked by bodyguards supplied by the Union

Tense: A woman is pressed between fencing as she is led away outside the Cambridge University Union

Unrest: Demonstrators tried to scale fences at the back of the Union building in an attempt to interrupt the event

She said two people arrested earlier in the day on suspicion of causing criminal damage, after graffiti appeared on the union building, also remained in custody.

Mr Strauss-Kahn, 62, was accused of sexually assaulting New York hotel maid Nafissatou Diallo, but U.S. prosecutors dropped criminal charges against him in August.

Criminal charges against Mr Strauss-Kahn were dropped by Diallo, who has since launched a bid to win monetary damages in New York's civil court.

On March 28, the same day as the first hearing in the civil case, Mr Strauss-Kahn is expected to be charged in France over a prostitution ring, including charges of complicity in pimping.

He has also been accused by 32-year-old French writer Tristane Banon of attempting to rape her in 2003.

Ring of steel: A security guard, left, prevents students from climbing a fence into the compound of the Union Society

Time to go: A woman is carried away by police during the demonstration

Difficult night: An injured demonstrator is helped by a police officer at the protest

Student Niki Horsfall, 23, said Mr Strauss-Kahn had been asked once about the incident with the maid and once about protesters.

'He was very professional. He said he had spent a week in prison ... and was acquitted,' said Ms Horsfall.

'He was asked about the protesters and said they could do what they want.'

She added: 'Apart from that it was all economics.'

Meanwhile, women's rights campaigners believe the former International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief should have been banned from speaking at the Union.

One message scrawled in huge black letters on a wall read ‘Jog On DSK’ while another message scribbled in red states ‘DSK Die’.

Another message calls to ‘End Rape Culture’ while a separate slogan says ‘Women Deserve Better’.

A large banner was hung across the oak doors of the 146-year-old building reading: ‘Only 6% of reported rape ends in conviction: DSK adding to the 94%’.

One student protester said: ‘After we discovered he was still coming and that we were not even allowed to attend the talk, we wanted to exercise our own freedom of speech as individuals and let the Union know what we think.’

Protesters outside the Cambridge Union Society as Dominique Strauss-Khan, who was accused of sexual assault in the U.S., delivered a talk to students

Campaigners claim the invite to Strauss-Khan displays a 'callous desire' by the student body to 'exploit gender crime allegations in the service of controversy'

Rushed in: Security guards shields the former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn as he is rushed in to Cambridge University Union

Another student said the timing of the address makes it even worse: ‘It is particularly inappropriate that this talk should be scheduled for a day after International Woman's Day.

‘The Union should be using its position of influence to fight sexism and sexual violence.’

The Cambridge Union Society defended its decision to invite Mr Strauss-Kahn, saying the invitation was not made after or as a result of the circumstances surrounding his departure from the IMF.

‘The Society has been inviting him to address our members for several years, given his economic knowledge as then head of the IMF, and his experience of French politics.

‘We would like to add that the purpose of the Union is to provide a neutral platform for free speech,’ it added.

Controversial: Former IMF chief, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, arrives at Cambridge University Union in a chauffeur-driven car

The society insisted that its invitation did not imply ‘support or endorsement’ for Mr Strauss-Kahn, it said speakers were selected ‘regardless of their ideology, background or personal history’.

‘We feel Mr Strauss-Kahn is exceptionally well qualified to speak on some of the most prominent international headlines of 2012, namely the global financial crisis and the French Presidential election, and so we believe he will give a pertinent and interesting speech,’ it added.

Campaigners gathered outside the Union in protest against Mr Strauss-Kahn’s appearance, which they claimed displayed a ‘callous desire’ by the student body to ‘exploit gender crime allegations in the service of controversy’.

But the world-famous debating society controversially decided to go ahead with the sold-out event.

Douglas Wigdor, the lawyer representing the hotel maid allegedly sexually assaulted by former IMF chief Dominique Strauss Kahn, joined protestors after earlier giving a talk in the law faculty.

The Oxford graduate and partner at New York firm Thompson Wigdor LLP, said: ‘It is my view that Strauss-Kahn is using the Cambridge Union's stature as an attempt to rebuild his own reputation and without participating in a free and open debate about the many issues of which he is directly involved concerning the rights of women and the abuse of his power.

Angry students protest outside the Cambridge Union Society as disgraced politician Dominique Strauss-Khan arrives to give a talk

‘As he will not be discussing these important subjects, I felt compelled to do so.’

The announcement that Mr Strauss-Kahn would address the society sparked a furore last month and led hundreds of students to sign a petition in protest.

In its open letter calling for his invitation to be withdrawn, the Cambridge University Student Union Women's Campaign wrote: ‘Numerous charges of attempted rape and sexual assault should give the Union Society pause for thought when administering their speaker invitations.

‘Yet conversely, the Union Society appears to have invited DSK because of the combination of his former economic position and alleged criminal notoriety.

‘Does the Union Society see allegations of attempted rape and sexual assault as titillation for its membership?’

The Cambridge’s Women’s Campaign said the Union event gave Strauss-Kahn a platform to speak without having to answer the sexual allegations against him.

Fury: Banners have appeared on the Union building protesting against a visit by Dominique Strauss-Kahn

Clear message: Graffiti has appeared on buildings around Cambridge in protest against the former IMF chief's invitation to speak

Writing on the wall: Graffiti that has appeared on a building in Cambridge ahead of Dominique Strauss-Kahn's arrival

Speaking out: Douglas Wigdor speaks to members of the Cambridge University Students Union in opposition to Strauss-Kahn appearing

CUSU Women’s Officer Ruth Graham said: 'The Union didn’t want to listen to our petition, which I find hard to understand.

'We started the petition as so many women students had got in touch saying they were angry and upset about his visit.

'Many felt strongly that they didn’t want to legitimise his presence in Cambridge.

'The Union asked him to speak about the economy and on his terms so it ignores what else has happened.

'By protesting we show that the women who come forward and report rape and sexual assault are listened to.'

But society leaders defended their decision to invite Mr Strauss-Kahn - and to ban journalists from the talk.

President Katie Lam, 20, who is studying classics at Cambridge, said the union was not deliberately courting controversy.

She said officials invited speakers they thought 'interesting' and did not make 'moral or political judgments', adding that the union's invitation was first made 'a few years ago'.

Officials had decided on a 'no-press policy' after discussions with Mr Strauss-Kahn, she added.


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Disgraced Dominique Strauss-Kahn gives Cambridge Union address flanked by 6 bodyguards

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