Protests ahead of Strauss-Kahn speech at Cambridge University
Disgraced former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn will face protests from students and criticism from the lawyer representing the woman, Nafissatou Diallo, he allegedly sexually assaulted in a New York hotel when he gives an address at Britain's prestigious Cambridge University on Friday night.
Ahead of his arrival, the walls of a university building were daubed in graffiti with slogans “death to DSK” and “women deserve better.” And angry students invited Diallo’s lawyer to speak hours before DSK is due to take the stage.
The Cambride Union debating society, which invited DSK to give a speech on the economy, has defended its decision saying it had asked him regularly to come and speak on the topic since 2010.
"The reason he has been invited is because he's a fascinating figure and has exceptional knowledge in the field," its president Katie Lam told the Frency news agency.
Strauss-Kahn quit as head of the International Monetary Fund in May 2011 over claims he had assaulted Dallo in a room at the Sofitel hotel in New York. US prosecutors dropped the criminal charges in August, but he still faces a civil case which opens on 28 March.
He has also been accused of attempted rape by a 32-year-old French writer, Tristane Banon, and is due to be charged in France over his involvement in a prostitute ring based in the northern French town of Lille.
A petition calling for Cambridge Union to withdraw the invite attracted over 700 signatures.
"This is an opportunity for students and people in the local community alike to make a public, vocal stand against Strauss-Kahn being welcomed into our city," said Ruth Graham, the student union's women's officer. "By protesting we show that the women who come forward and report rape and sexual assault are listened to."
In a statement Diallo’s lawyer, Douglas Wigdor, said he was “delighted to be able to share my views on the sexual aggression of Mrs Diallo by Strauss-Kahn, the impact on other victims of sexual aggression and the latest developments in the affair.”
Previous guest of the Cambridge debating society have included the Dalai Lama and the former leader of France’s far-right National Front party, Jean-Marie Le Pen.