Shiv Malik and Alexandra Topping
The president of Sri Lanka has been forced to cancel a keynote speech in the City of London after concerns about the threat of large demonstrations by Tamil rights groups.
Mahinda Rajapaksa, who has been accused of presiding over human rights abuses after allegations of war crimes by Sri Lankan armed forces, will still attend a lunch for the Queen, hosted by the Commonwealth secretary general at Marlborough House on Pall Mall.
Rajapaksa was set to give the keynote speech at a special diamond jubilee meeting of the Commonwealth Economic Forum on Wednesday morning, but the event’s organisers, the Commonwealth Business Council, stated on its website: “After careful consideration, the morning sessions of the forum … will not take place.” Tickets to the event cost £795 plus VAT.
A spokesman for Scotland Yard said it had agreed to guarantee the president’s security but the CBC had “decided it was not in their interest to stage the event” because of the extent of the policing required and the likely disruption to the City of London.