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British High Commission (Demonstrations)

Volume 722: debated on Tuesday 21 December 1965

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asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations if he is aware that the British High Commissioner in Sierra Leone rebuked the Director of African Studies and a guest-lecturer at the University College of Sierra Leone, Freetown, for taking part in a lawful demonstration of protest against the unilateral declaration of independence in Rhodesia; and why the High Commissioner took this action.

The facts are as follows:Mr. Crowder, Director of the Institute of African Studies at the University College of Sierra Leone, and Mr. James Pope-Hennessy, who was visiting Sierra Leone at the time, took part in a demonstration about Rhodesia outside the British High Commission in Freetown on 12th November. It followed one on the previous day during which the car which a member of the High Commissioner's staff was driving, was badly damaged and efforts were made to attack the British Information Office. The march in which Mr. Crowder and Mr. Pope-Hennessy took part was accompanied by banners such as "All British are hyprocrites", but the Sierra Leone Government provided not police to prevent damage to British Government property.In the circumstances our High Commissioner saw Mr. Crowder and told him, as he was quite at liberty to do, that he had felt obliged to cancel a private luncheon which he had, at Mr. Crowder's request, arranged to give for Mr. Crowder and Mr. Pope-Hennessy on the same day. His view, to which he was perfectly well entitled, was that he did not think it proper for United Kingdom citizens resident in Sierra Leone to take an active part in demonstrations of the kind described.