Protesters let off smoke bomb at Grayling debate

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The Independent Online

A debate hosted by Professor A C Grayling ended in chaos last night as protesters opposed to his plans to set up a private university set off a smoke bomb.

Professor Grayling, professor of philosophy at the universities of London and Oxford, recently announced the launch of the New College of the Humanities (NCH).

Students who attend the private university would pay £18,000 to be taught by prominent academics such as Richard Dawkins and Steven Pinker.

Critics of the plan argue it will create an elitist and two-tiered university system in which the wealthiest students would have access to the best facilities.

Professor Grayling was heckled as he tried to talk about cuts to the arts at Foyles bookshop in central London last night. As the discussion was drawing to a close, a red smoke flare was set off in the crowd of about 100 people.

When the philosopher began to talk, someone in the crowd shouted: "You have no right to speak" and another called out "Venture capitalist".

One protester said: "You should be defending public education, not deserting it."

He said later: "It is always upsetting being the target of attacks. I didn't expect to change minds there because I understand the real anxiety that people feel about higher education."