Students at University of Birmingham warned of possible legal action over Gaza encampment

Birmingham is one of several leading universities where students have set up an encampment.

University of Birmingham University Campus Edgbaston Joseph Chamberlain Memorial Clock Tower Old Joe Birmingham West Midlands England UK GB Europe
The University of Birmingham, where students have been warned they could face legal action of their pro-Palestine encampment. (Stock image: Getty)

Students at Birmingham University have been told they could face legal action if they do not remove their encampment against the war in Gaza.

The university is one of more than a dozen in the UK, including Cambridge and Oxford, where camps have been set up similarly to those in the United States, where there have been tense standoffs and thousands of arrests.

Concerns around a potentially similar escalation saw vice-chancellors from a number of UK universities summoned to a meeting with the Prime Minister to discuss antisemitism on campuses and keeping Jewish students safe.

The University of Birmingham previously said it was “monitoring the situation to ensure safety and minimise disruption”. It has now emerged that a letter has been issued to students warning them they face legal action if they do not shut down their camp.

In the letter, seen by the Daily Mail and sent by the university's director of legal services Dr Nicola Cardenos Blanco, students involved in the encampment at at the university's main campus in Edgbaston are told they are trespassing.

Los Angeles, CA - May 01:  Los Angeles, CA - May 01:  Protestors gather outside the Pro-Palestinian encampment on the campus of UCLA in Los Angeles on Wednesday, May 1, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images)
Protests at universities in the United States have seen rising tensions and thousands of arrests (Getty)

The letter, which the University of Birmingham has confirmed to Yahoo News UK is genuine, says: "The University of Birmingham confirms that it does not give permission for you to protest at The Green Heart or any other part of Edgbaston Campus (the premises) which is private land.

"Your occupation at the Premises is a trespass. The University requires you to leave the premises immediately.

"Failure to do so will result in the University taking legal action and/or reporting your trespass to law enforcement officers without further notice."

The letter comes after Birmingham's Vice Chancellor Prof Adam Tickell reportedly cancelled a meeting with pro-Palestine protesters and said he would be unwilling to talk with them until the camp had been dismantled.

In a statement, the University of Birmingham said: "A small group of tents has been set up on campus by individuals protesting in support of Palestine. The University is operating as normal with exams and other activity continuing as planned.

“The University of Birmingham recognises that students will wish to take part in protests about issues that they care deeply about. There are many ways in which this can be done lawfully, and the profile of a cause raised. Our Freedom of Speech Code of Practice sets out how we support this, including through authorised demonstrations. However, this does not include setting up tents on University property where there is no permission or authority to do so.

“We are monitoring the situation to ensure safety and minimise disruption, including to students who are currently studying for and taking exams, and other education and wider university activities. We ask that the protestors also respect this.

“Our University community includes staff, students and visitors from a wide range of backgrounds and beliefs. Everyone has the right to go about their business safely and free from intimidation or harassment and we will not tolerate any form of discrimination or racism, including antisemitism and Islamophobia. We maintain regular discussions with a range of student and staff representatives to listen to their views and ensure that they feel supported.

“We have a wide range of support available to students and staff.”