Liveblog: This House Has No Confidence in Ben Sullivan

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Welcome to The OxStu’s liveblog of the Union debate “This House Has No Confidence in Ben Sullivan”.

OUR COVERAGE CONTINUES ON TWITTER- https://twitter.com/TheOxStu

21:03 Mayank Banerjee, President-Elect, stands up to defend Sullivan. Mayank argues that if Sullivan resigns, the running of the Union will not improve because Banerjee will then be running the Union. Banerjee states that he is speaking in a personal capacity. Banerjee states that he is sick of the Union being accused of not listening to allegations of sexual assault. Mayank goes on to dispute the claim that Ben had misused Union funds to defend himself against allegation in the Tab but does admit that Sullivan made a mistake to deny his membership of the ‘Banter Squadron’. However, he claims that the ‘Banter Squadron’ is a joke and it is not fair to demonise him with it. Banerjee also argues that most speakers aren’t cancelling because of Ben but because of Pine and Dollimore’s campaign.

21:00 Annie Teriba, a Wadham fresher and Seccie, stands up to defend the motion. She says the motion is not about Sullivan’s innocence. Teriba instead argues that it is normal for people to stand down when they are under internal investigation. She further adds that Sullivan defending himself would take too much time from him to properly act as President. Teriba also cites the “unpleasant atmosphere” in committees and meetings. She claims that Sullivan has failed to fulfil his crucial role as facilitating debating  as he overslept and missed the beginning of a debating competition. Teriba claims that if the end of term comes without a no-con being passed, the University and Union will have failed its members. She sat down to a large round of applause.

20:57 The speaker cites the example of House of Commons deputy speaker, Nigel Evans. He points out that Evans only resigned after the CPS charged him and he was eventually found innocent. He urges the house to vote  against the motion and receives a large round of applause.

20:55 A man stands up to speak against the motion. He claims not to know Ben Sullivan, has only spoken to Sullivan for 20 minutes and is not a member of the Union- the chair gave him permission to speak. The opposer to the motion claims that “the fundamental rights of the individual” are at stake. He argues that as Sullivan has not been charged, it is wrong to judge him. He claims that the supporters of the no-con are well meaning but confused and that the outcome of this no-con will be deemed to be a judgement not on Sullivan’s competence as President but as Sullivan’s guilt or innocence.

20:52 Gaj refuses to accept two points of information. Gaj now argues that Sullivan has brought negative press onto the Union and has failed in his duties as President. He claims that his no con motion will give a voice to the members.

20:49 Aleksy Gaj, the motion’s proposer, stands up to speak. Gaj states that he didn’t bring this motion as a comment on the Sullivan rape allegations. Gaj comments that it is damning that so many senior Union officials have resigned. Gaj also cites Sullivan’s use of £1000 to pay for legal expenses against The Tab. He them moved onto the rash of speaker cancellations and alleged that Sullivan was “incompetent”, had failed to go to meetings and reply to emails.

20:47 Trafford now moves to the private business motion of no confidence in Sullivan.

20:43 Trafford now reading a statement from President Sullivan. Sullivan apologises for not being there and states that he can’t defend himself because of the ongoing police investigation. Sullivan promised that he would resign if charged but reminded the audience that it would be unfair to vote for this motion as he can’t defend himself.

20:40 Officers now file in. Alexander Trafford, former Secretary, is chairing.

20:31 We have heard that Sullivan will not be speaking tonight for fear of being found in contempt of court.

20:29 A bit of background- Ben Sullivan was arrested earlier this month on suspicion of rape and attempted rape and released on bail without charge. He remains under investigation. Since then, Sara Pine and Helena Dollimore have spearheaded a campaign to make Sullivan resign as President and get speakers to cancel their attendance at Union events. A number of speakers complied including Norman Finkelstein but others, most prominently AC Grayling, have refused. Grayling wrote an open letter to Pine and Dollimore emphasising that Sullivan has not yet been charged and the presumption of innocence is crucial.

20:24 The Chamber is absolutely packed for tonight’s no-con debate. Members of both camps filling the room with a number of BNOCs sat in the audience including Louis Trup, Crawford Jamieson, Tom Rutland and Cai Wilshaw.