A school talk by right wing journalist Milo Yiannopoulos has been cancelled due to safety concerns.
Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys, which Yiannopoulos attended as a child, said it had pulled the address to sixth formers due to take place on Tuesday after being contacted by the Department for Education’s (DfE) “counter extremism unit”.
Outspoken conservative Yiannopoulos is a senior editor for Breitbart, the US “alt-right” website. Its chief executive Steve Bannon has been a controversial appointment as chief strategist to President-elect Donald Trump.
The school in Canterbury, Kent said it was “disappointed that both the pastoral care and intellectual preparation we offer to our students has been called into question”.
A spokesman said: “This decision was taken following contact from the DfE counter extremism unit, the threat of demonstrations at the school by organised groups and members of the public and our overall concerns for the security of the school site and the safety of our community.
“We note that, within 24 hours of advertising the event, 220 Langton sixth formers had, with parental consent, signed up for the event and that objection to our hosting Yiannopoulos came almost entirely from people with no direct connection to The Langton. The staff and students of the school were overwhelmingly in favour.
“Whilst disappointed that both the pastoral care and intellectual preparation we offer to our students has been called into question, we at The Langton remain committed to the principle of free speech and open debate and will resist, where possible, all forms of censorship.”
Barred from Twitter in the summer, Langton old boy Yiannopoulos describes himself on his official Facebook page as “the most fabulous supervillain on the internet”.
Writing on his Facebook page on Monday, he said: “Who even knew the DoE (sic) had a ‘counter-extremism’ unit? And that it wasn’t set up to combat terrorism but rather to punish gays with the wrong opinions?
“Perhaps if I’d called my talk ‘Muslims are awesome!’ the National Union Of Teachers (NUT) and Department of Education (sic) would have been cool with me speaking.”