British charity cancels event by French far-right pundit Zemmour
Campaigners for French far-right TV pundit Eric Zemmour, who is widely expected to run for president next year, expressed outrage on Wednesday after a leading British charity cancelled a booking for an event he was due to host in London.
Zemmour, who some polls suggest would be President Emmanuel Macron’s biggest rival in the election, is scheduled to travel to London on Friday to address members of the city’s French community.
He booked a conference room at The Royal Institution, a charity that encourages the public to explore science and which has Prince Charles as a patron.
But on Wednesday, a spokesman for the charity told AFP: “After following the normal process of due diligence, the Royal Institution has taken the decision to cancel the venue hire event, and therefore Mr Zemmour will not be speaking at the RI.”
Zemmour’s booking had been made “at short notice” and the decision to cancel it was not financial in nature, he said, but declined to give any further explanation.
Zemmour’s campaign team expressed indignation over the move, saying it had paid the bill in full, sent out invitations and accredited media for the event.
It called the Royal Institution’s decision a “major mistake which is particularly scandalous in terms of method. Unless it wanted to deliberately sabotage the moment”.
The team added that the cancellation of the ultra-nationalist, who has two convictions for hate speech, was “rather comical” in what it called “the country of freedom of speech” and said that Zemmour would go ahead with his trip and address the French community at another location, to be confirmed on Thursday.
Zemmour, 63, is vying with longtime far-right leader Marine Le Pen for the support of the hard right ahead of April’s election. He has yet to formally announce his candidacy but is expected to do so within weeks.
He has addressed tens of thousands of supporters at events around France in recent weeks to promote a book seen as a manifesto for his anti-immigration, anti-Islam, staunchly sovereignist agenda.
But he also encountered local opposition, forcing some venues to cancel his events.