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Landslide vote for human rights lawyer

Glasgow University students send message of unity against hatred and bigotry

24 March 2017

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One of Scotland’s leading human rights campaigners and criminal defence solicitors has seen off darling of the ‘Alt-Right’ Milo Yiannopoulos to be elected the new rector of Glasgow University.

Aamer Anwar received 4,458 votes for the honorary student body role. Also in the running for rector was High Court judge Lady Hazel Cosgrove who came second with 1,409 votes. The Liberal Democrat’s Sir Vince Cable came third with 535 votes.

But it was the vote share of Yiannopoulos, the former Breibart senior editor, who everyone was looking out for. The professional provocateur received an embarrassing 533 votes after pledging to make students encounter as much ‘upsetting, offensive, and bubble-bursting material as possible’.

Yiannopoulos resigned from Breitbart in February after video emerged of him appearing to endorse sex between ‘younger boys’ and older men.

Kent-born Yiannopoulos, who refers to President Donald Trump as ‘Daddy’, has been at the centre of several online controversies in recent years, including ‘Gamergate’, and was permanently banned from Twitter in 2016 following his role in the online abuse of Ghostbuster’s actor Leslie Jones.

With his resignation from Breitbart, the loss of his book deal with Simon & Schuster, and retraction of an invitation to speak at the American Conservative Union’s CPac conference, the role of Glasgow University rector was probably seen by Yiannopoulos as a possible return to relevance.

As for the winner, this is the second time the Scottish solicitor has run for the rector post. In 2008 Anwar came runner-up in the university’s election, losing the race to the late Charles Kennedy MP.

‘It’s a tremendous result – a landslide victory,’ said Anwar. ‘For me, it just encompasses the fact that students at Glasgow University do care. They’ve sent a message of unity against hatred and bigotry.’

The Glasgow-based human rights lawyer has already won numerous industry awards but his work has not been without controversy. In 2007 he faced a contempt of court hearing after calling the conviction of a client for terror-related offences a tragedy for justice and freedom of speech.

Anwar was later cleared and his client, Mohammed Atif Siddique, had his conviction quashed in 2010.

Last year police began investigating death threats made to Anwar after the solicitor condemned extremism in the wake of the killing of shopkeeper Asad Shah and terror attacks in Brussels and Lahore.

Anwar will succeed NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden as rector and hold the post for the next three years. As for Yiannopoulos, don’t expect this to be the last we hear from him. Unfortunately.

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