Academic who attacked Priti Patel gets ‘cancelled’ by Home Office as she is blocked from delivering lecture

  • A Cambridge academic was stopped from delivering a lecture at the Home Office after she made offensive remarks about Priti Patel
  • Professor Priyamvada Gopal, 53, was supposed to speak about her view the department’s policies are linked with colonial history 
  • One of Prof Gopal’s old tweets claimed Home Secretary Miss Patel held ‘anti-black attitudes’ typical of Indians who lived in East Africa 

A left-wing Cambridge academic has been stopped from delivering a lecture at the Home Office after she made offensive remarks about Priti Patel.

Professor Priyamvada Gopal, 53, was invited to speak this week to government officials about her view that the department’s policies are linked with colonial history.

But the academic, who is professor of post-colonial studies in the university’s English faculty, said her invitation was cancelled at short notice.

It comes after one of her old tweets came to light in which she claimed Home Secretary Miss Patel held ‘anti-black attitudes’ typical of Indians who lived in East Africa.

The tweet said: ‘Priti Patel is also a reminder that many Asians in British Africa had ferociously anti-black attitudes and were used by colonial administrations to keep black populations in their place. An attitude she brings to government.’

Professor Priyamvada Gopal was invited to speak this week to government officials about her view that the department’s policies are linked with colonial history. But the academic, who is professor of post-colonial studies in the university’s English faculty, said her invitation was cancelled at short notice

One of Prof Priyamvada Gopal’s old tweets came to light in which she claimed Home Secretary Miss Patel held ‘anti-black attitudes’ typical of Indians who lived in East Africa

Although Miss Patel was born in London, her Indian parents previously lived in Uganda and members of her wider family were forcibly expelled from the country in dictator Idi Amin’s anti-Asian purge in 1972.

The message, which was posted in February this year and is still publicly available, resurfaced earlier this week on the Guido Fawkes website.

The cancellation message from the Home Office’s adviser made no mention of the tweet but said it was due to ‘unforeseen circumstances’.

In a statement on her blog, Professor Gopal said her tweet had been ‘far from being a racist statement’.

She added: ‘My criticisms of the hawkish present Home Secretary and her participation in anti-blackness are also a matter of public record. I had been under the impression that criticism of politicians was allowed in a democracy.’

Last night Professor Gopal appealed to Michelle Donelan, the universities minister, saying her free speech had been curtailed. The request appeared to reference the Government’s new free speech bill, which will stop ‘no- platforming’ at universities.

She asked the minister on Twitter: ‘I’ve had a routine speaking engagement cancelled at short notice following pressure from a partisan campaign group. I know and deeply believe you to care about such gross infringements of academic freedom. Please help?’

A government spokesman said last night: ‘The civil service is a diverse employer and it is vitally important we celebrate Black History Month to ensure our civil service is representative of the communities we serve.

‘Following the Windrush Lessons Learned Review, we committed to opening ourselves up to challenge and external engagement and our events draw on a range of speakers. Due diligence checks are always taken on any speakers and it is important to note speakers who come to these events are not always representative of the view of the Government.’

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