ALEX Salmond has accused a Scottish university of a “sinister attack” on freedom of speech after an Alba Party event was cancelled at the last minute.

The Aberdeen University Student Union (AUSU) golf club decided to withdraw the booking ahead of a Wee Alba Book roadshow event.

The student association said it did not believe it was appropriate to “promote one single party” so close to the council elections.

Alba claimed the event booking was withdrawn after supporters of the Scottish Government’s gender recognition reforms objected to the event.

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The union’s president said some trans students had raised concerns about the event, adding that the student organisation stands behind the trans community.

Alba said the meeting was to discuss its Wee Alba Book, which launched last month and aims to convince voters to back Yes, and not to talk about the GRA reforms.

The GRA reforms are designed to make it easier for trans people to legally change their gender.

There has been pushback against the plans from Alba, the Tories and some women's groups.

Salmond said the event ban won't deter the party from continuing to speak out on the issue.

The former First Minister said: “The attempt to cancel a meeting on The Wee ALBA Book in Aberdeen University tonight (Friday) represents a sinister attack on freedom of speech.

"There is a small group of activists stretching across Scotland and the UK who think it OK to disrupt meetings or cancel individuals via social media if anyone just might disagree with them on the issue of the proposed reforms to the Gender Recognition Act. Their targets have ranged recently from Joanna Cherry MP to JK Rowling."

The National: Alex Salmond, left, said Alba won't be deterred from speaking outAlex Salmond, left, said Alba won't be deterred from speaking out

He continued: "Those who bow to this pressure like the University Students Association are more culpable. Have they never heard of the role of Universities in enshrining freedom of speech?"

Salmond said the event went ahead outside the event space with more than 60  people attending.

He said: "The three protesters who actually turned up were polite well behaved and asked a perfectly reasonable question. Indeed it demonstrated why dialogue beats bans anytime, anywhere.

"Alba will not be deterred by these silly attempts at bans from making the serious case for the urgency of independence, a case which is supported by half the population of Scotland. 

"Nor will we be deflected from the entirely reasonable proposal to refer the issue of the GRA to a Citizens Assembly where the heat can be extracted from the politics and some badly needed light shed on the issue.”

Alisa Koester, Ausa student President, said: “AUSA fully supports the Golf Club’s decision to withdraw their backing for last evening’s event. We believe it would be highly inappropriate for AUSA or the University to host an event promoting a single political party so close to Council elections.

“AUSA stands in full solidarity with the trans community who raised concerns about the event. Our campus should be a safe place where all our students feel welcome.”

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A spokesperson for the Golf Club said: “Yesterday afternoon, the AUSA Golf Club withdrew the room booking for the proposed event in the evening. We did not have a full understanding of the political nature of the event at the time of booking, and would not have submitted the request had we had a clear understanding of the situation.

“The Golf Club is a sports club for students to enjoy one of the most popular sports in Scotland. We do not hold any political affiliation and will look more thoroughly at our approach to bookings going forward. We’d like to apologise to anyone affected by this.

“We are an inclusive club that supports the diversity of our members. Golf is a sport enjoyed by a variety of people no matter their background and identity, and we are very proud to offer accessible golfing for all students.”

An Aberdeen University spokesperson said: “The University is aware that the Student Association’s Golf Club cancelled a planned event within one of our buildings on campus on Friday evening.”