The incident, which took place on the evening of Tuesday March 1 following a Hustings Meeting for hopeful sabbatical officers, resulted in a number of posters promoting the James Foley campaign being torn down from their positions and ‘thrown to the street’ by members of the GUU Board.
Eyewitnesses to the event claim to have seen Board members leaving a GUU meeting in a drunken state, before proceeding along University Avenue as far as University Gardens. They were then intercepted by a number of James Foley's supporters, who are said to have subsequently ‘physically assaulted’ and ‘spat on’ the GUU Board members involved.
Chris Walsh, a member of the Vote Foley Campaign Team and eyewitness to the event, spoke of his anger on finding people removing campaign material.
He said: “We kind of expected some drunk people coming out of the unions to pull down a few placards; but to come across an organised group of GUU board members specifically targeting our campaign materials after a drunken night out was infuriating. Hardly union impartiality.
“It’s clear that the right wing establishment are willing to use any dirty tactics to prevent the election of a real, progressive candidate.”
The members of the GUU Board involved – accused by the Foley Campaign Team of being Ross Mitchell, Convener of Debates, Ross Cook, Convener of Libraries, David Birrell, Convener of Games and Present Student Member Chris Bush - will face disciplinary action according to GUU President Colin Woods, who stressed that the Union does not support any individual candidate in the SRC Election.
He said: “At roughly 3am on Wednesday morning a number of GUU Board Members did remove some James Foley placards from University Avenue. GUU in no way condones the behaviour of those GUU Board members involved in the incident and they will be subjected to individual discipline as a result of their behaviour.
“GUU has no official backing of any candidate in this election. The individuals involved were acting on their own accord and in an individual capacity.”
Woods went on to accuse members of the Foley campaign of acts of violence against members of the GUU Board, condemning their response as ‘deplorable’ and ‘thuggish’.
“[The incident] resulted in those involved being physically assaulted and spat on by the individuals from Mr. Foley's campaign.
“The behaviour of the members of Mr. Foleys team was absolutely deplorable. The use of violence in any campaign is at best thuggish and menacing, and at worse cause for police involvement; on this occasion the police were not called as the individuals involved did not wish to put negative attention on what should be an important and positive election.
“These attacks were also independently witnessed, and at one point a passer-by intervened in the aid of one of the board members involved.”
James Foley, along with fellow candidate Stuart Ritchie, is one of the frontrunners in the ongoing election for SRC President. Desmond McKenna is also hoping to take the position.
It remains to be seen how this incident will affect James Foley's campaign.