‘Let Katie Hopkins Come to Bedford’ – petition to reverse ‘ban’ reaches 1,600 signatures
A protest calling for a decision to ban controversial Katie Hopkins from Bedford has been staged by a former drag queen.
But the council is refusing to budge on its stance – despite a petition against the ban topping 1,600 signatures.
Katie was due to visit Bedford Corn Exchange next year with her show Live Laugh Love – but the gig was cancelled by Bedford Borough Council in October following a petition launched by Victoria Harrison.
Eddie Ruggiero started a counter-petition to protest the cancellation – arguing “no council should have to right to curtail the free speech of any single person based on a difference of opinion or internet petitions”.
And he got ‘back into drag’ to protest on the steps of the Corn Exchange after it reached 1,600 signatures.
Eddie, 33, who has been battling brain cancer and given three to five years to live, said: “Having been an avid proponent for free speech for many years I found the decision making process the council took in order to cancel Katie’s event deeply troubling.
“When I created the petition I promised that if I received 100 signatures by the end of the week I would get back into drag for the first time in five years and protest outside the Corn Exchange in order to bring attention to the clear violation of Katie’s right to speak at the venue. I had over 100 signatures by the end of the day.
“The petition to let Katie come has now reached over 1,600 signatures and I’m pleased to know it’s not just me who feels this overreach by Bedford Borough Council is a profound step in the wrong direction.”
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She said: “Because 50 people signed a petition written up by a lady who hasn’t seen the show, didn’t come to Blackpool, doesn’t watch Katie’s Arms, hasn’t been part of this, the last three years that we’ve had together, the mayor of Bedford – it’s not about him and this isn’t an attack on him – he pulled the show.”
She added: “It’s nothing to do with religion or politics. It cannot be offensive because it’s mostly laughing at me.
“If you’re a hater that’s fine, but perhaps you can see it in your heart to just see that letting me speak to people who do want to come would be terrific.”
Katie also said that she had offered to perform privately for the council so they could see her material and added that she was prepared to donate the proceeds to a charity of the council’s choice.
She added: “I don’t care about the money. I will give the money to charity. It can be a charity of their choice. It can be Muslims for Bedford. I don’t care. I just want to be allowed to come to the theatre that said it would have me because they heard about Blackpool and they heard it was great.”
A Bedford Borough Council spokesperson said: “We are proud to have a diverse community in Bedford Borough and want to support people to help one another to thrive. We do not feel the show in question supports this objective.”