Oxford Union Society apologises unreservedly and accepts need for institutional change following its ejection of a blind, Black student from its flagship debate

The Oxford Union Society has today published an unreserved apology to Ebenezer Azamati, a post-graduate student from Ghana.  Mr Azamati, who is blind and Black, was initially refused entry and then removed from the Oxford Union’s debating chamber by security staff in October 2019.  Footage of Mr Azamati being forcibly removed from the chamber was circulated widely on social media and raised significant public concern about the Union’s treatment of him and its approach to issues of diversity and accessibility.  The Union subsequently pursued disciplinary proceedings against Mr Azamati when he made a public complaint of racist treatment by the Union.  The disciplinary complaints were withdrawn on appeal and the Union has today publicly acknowledged that the allegations it had made against Mr Azamati were wholly unfounded and untrue.  It has apologised for its treatment of Mr Azamati and acknowledged that this was fundamentally wrong.  The Union has agreed to pay Mr Azamati an undisclosed sum in settlement of his claims for assault, unlawful discrimination, victimisation and defamation.  It has also acknowledged the need for institutional change and has agreed, as part of the settlement agreement, to commission an independent Equality and Access Review which will closely examine the Union’s rules, policies, procedures, practices, staff roles and responsibilities and training requirements to identify the changes required to bring it into accordance with the law and best practice.  The Oxford Union Society’s public statement is available here.

Mr Azamati was represented by Ruth Brander of Doughty Street Chambers and Ben Silverstone of Matrix Chambers, instructed by John Halford and Farhana Patel of Bindmans LLP.