Student arrested as more days of national protests are planned

Michael Savage
Saturday 13 November 2010 01:00

A student suspected of hurling a fire extinguisher from a 30-storey building during this week's protests over tuition fees has been arrested.

The 23-year-old from Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge has not been named but is thought to be from Reading. He was arrested at the request of the Metropolitan Police. Officers had scoured hours of video footage to identify which of the protesters on the roof of Millbank Tower, home to the Tory headquarters, had thrown the empty canister. He was later released on bail.

Thousands of students across Britain have already begun to organise a further day of mass disruption on 24 November. It has emerged that lecturers are also helping to organise the protests.

Dozens of lecturers have signed a petition defending those who took part in the break-in, during which fires were started and windows smashed. Billy Bragg, the activist and musician, the author Naomi Klein, and Lee Hall, the playwright who wrote Billy Elliot, have also lent their support. The petition now has more than 3,000 signatures of support in all.

Activists are hoping to exploit the attention given toWednesday's protest by making rapid plans for another day of action in two weeks' time. Universities from Portsmouth to Glasgow will take part and some already have firm strategies. Students at University of Westminster will stage a "carnival of cuts".

Alan Whittaker, the president of the University and College Union (UCU), will on Monday address a meeting to finalise a mass walkout strategy. Alison Lord, of UCU's national executive committee, will also take part. She is among those who have backed the Tory HQ protesters. "What they did was very selfless – they won't benefit from their actions, but people in the future could do," she said. "I absolutely support plans for walk-outs in the future."

Some are also planning to ambush Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, with embarrassing questions about his backing for a tripling in tuition fees, during a speech he is delivering the day before the protest. Mr Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, made a very public pledge not to support any increase in fees during the election campaign.

Scotland Yard revealed yesterday that 56 people had been arrested following the violent scenes which unfolded at Wednesday's protest. All are students, though 10 of them are under 18.

Clare Solomon, president of the University of London Union who was one of those who occupied Tory HQ, said further action was crucial to delivering a stark message to the Government. "I think it is absolutely imperative that our students now mount up maximum disruption and resistance," she said. "I expect students to take over their universities and show the Government we will not stand for them trashing our education system. I would like to see all universities occupied."

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