THERE were protests in Southampton yesterday before a planned seminar by an Israeli academic.

Protesters from Students for Palestine and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign set up a picket line ahead of a planned public talk by Professor Mark Auslender, a researcher and professor in engineering sciences at the University of Ben- Gurion in Negev, Israel.

The English Defence League organised a counter-demonstration, and police and security guards stood by at the University of Southampton.

The protest remained peaceful but the talk on optical sensors and how they can be used in health care, which had been organised by the university’s Optoelectronics Research Centre, was cancelled.

A university spokesman said: “Following conversations with Professor Mark Auslender, it was decided that his talk on optical sensors will not now take place.”

Students for Palestine member Michael Ambrose, 19, said: “An academic boycott of Israel has been called for by many institutions and academics across the world. We’re here to support that and we’re protesting against the University of Southampton’s involvement with Israeli institutions.”

EDL member Billy Hamilton said: “We amassed ourselves to promote freedom of speech in academia. It is appalling that this talk has been cancelled.”

There are currently no plans to reschedule the seminar.