A HARDY group of protesters gathered in the snow outside the Oxford Union to protest against the appearance of a man who wasn’t there.

Nick Griffin, the leader of the far-right British National Party, had threatened to turn up to a debate on gay rights held on Thursday.

He had been invited in error by a member of the union working without the groups’s approval, until his invitation was withdrawn.

But earlier this week Mr Griffin said on Twitter that he might turn up anyway, with an Oxford Union spokesman saying he would not be turned away since he was a Cambridge University graduate and therefore a “reciprocal member” of the debating society.

But the BNP chairman, who is also an MEP, failed to attend. A group of around 30 protesters gathered in St Michael’s Street on Thursday evening to protest against his possible appearance.

Ian McKendrick, secretary of Oxford Unite Against Fascism, said: “We feel so strongly about this that we were not taking any chances on whether he turned up or not.

“Fascists want to deny free speech to everyone else so we are here defending free speech for everyone else.

“We are very pleased he didn’t turn up and it gave us the chance to raise the issue of homophobia and hate speech.”

Dave Legg, chairman of Oxford Pride, said: “I was never expecting Nick Griffin to turn up.”