UK cops demand list of attendees at university fracking debate

Canterbury Christ Church University refused to give the Kent police a list of the attendees at a debate on fracking, despite the cops insistence that they needed to have the names to assess "the threat and risk for significant public events in the county to allow it to maintain public safety."

One of the speakers at the debate, Ian Driver, a Green party councillor in Thanet, has been subjected to extensive police surveillance, though he has no criminal record: the police logged 22 public meetings and demonstrations he helped to organise about gay marriage and animal exports.

It's part of a wider pattern of police spying on peaceful protesters and political organisers:

The request follows disclosures that police have been monitoring political activities at universities around the country, and spying on groups that use non-violent methods to further their aims. Last year it was revealed that police attempted to recruit an activist to become an informant and pass on information about Cambridge University students and other protesters.

At Lancaster University, police took photographs of two posters reading "Not for Shale" and "End Israel's attacks on Gaza" in the office window of the students' union president. They told her she was potentially committing a public order offence.

Police asked university for list of attendees at fracking debate [Rob Evans/Guardian]