A university tutor from Brighton has been accused of being one of the “hardcore” leaders of the student protest which descended into violence in London yesterday (Wednesday 10 November).
It ran a story headlined: “Riot rabble who targeted Tory HQ: Unmasked, the hardcore leaders of the student mob.”
In its report the Mail said that Mr Cooper was a member of the pressure group Revolution and had confirmed that the event was carefully organised.
The Mail quoted Mr Cooper as saying: “There has always been a plan for Revolution and the International Coalition Against Fees and Cuts to take direct action after the National Union of Students demo.
“There are a number of different government buildings in that part of London and all of them would have been legitimate targets for protest and occupation.”
The Mail quoted Revolution’s website as saying: “We are a group of young activists who are fed up with unemployment, war, poverty, cuts and capitalism.
“We want to bring down Cam and Clegg’s millionaire coalition and replace it with socialism.”
About 400 students from Sussex University took part in the demonstration which ended in violence yesterday, with at least eight people being treated in hospital for injuries and 50 being arrested.
Brighton Pavilion Green MP Caroline Lucas also joined the 50,000 students and lecturers who marched through Westminster.
Some of the protesters stormed and smashed up the building that houses the Conservative Party’s headquarters, 30 Millbank, which is close to the House of Parliament.
A fire extinguisher was thrown from the roof, narrowly missing people below.
The protest was against plans to raise to tuition fees to as much as £9,000 a year, to tax graduates and to cut government funding for universities.
Tom Mauchline, 20, an international relations undergraduate student at Sussex, also joined the demonstration.
Mr Mauchline, who lives in Bentham Road, Brighton, voted Lib Dem at the general election.
He said: “I’m not usually the sort of person that goes on protests but I feel really passionately about access to education.
“While you expect these kind of attacks on education from the Tories I stupidly thought the Lib Dems were different.
“Now I’m left feeling completely conned and betrayed.
“Before the election the Lib Dems promised us they would abolish fees.
“They said they were the only party that could be trusted to keep their promise and now they’ve gone back on their word.
“If I could take my vote back I would.”
Students from the university were excused from lectures and seminars to take part in the protest.
The National Union of Students (NUS) and the University and College Union (UCU), a staff trade union, joined forces to organise the national demonstration.
The demo, called Fund Our Future: Stop Education Cuts, was intended to give university workers and students the opportunity to make their anger known.
According to The Badger, a student publication at the Falmer campus, Sussex University responded positively to an appeal made by the Students’ Union to be considerate of students who attended the rally.
The Badger said that the university’s vice-chancellor Professor Michael Farthing and his executive team had “discussed and decided … that individual students’ absences from teaching will be accepted”.
The report added: “Students will be responsible for ensuring that they catch up with any teaching that they may have missed.”
The Badger’s report also said: “The university has also made the notable decision to extend deadlines for assessments due on Wednesday 10 November by 24 hours to 4pm on Thursday 11 November so that students may attend the demonstration without disrupting their courses.
“However, they are reminded that ‘attendance at the demonstration will not be accepted as mitigation in respect of any late or non-submission of any assessment’.
“Staff members wishing to attend the demonstration will need to agree leave with their line manager, subject to work requirements on that day, as they would for any time off for personal activities or events.”
Lita Wallis, the Students’ Union education officer, was quoted as saying: “The university’s decision to back the NUS national demo is a great sign of how relations on campus have changed since last year.
“We should be united in our fight at this point as the cuts proposed by the government affect everyone involved in the higher education system.
“I’m actually rather hoping to see some members of the vice-chancellor’s executive group out there marching with us!”
She was seen in a television report after the demo on a BBC South news bulletin last night.