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Charity denounces claims Redbridge’s Speak Out Challenge winner disqualified over ‘anti-Israel’ speech

PUBLISHED: 13:25 31 May 2016 | UPDATED: 14:38 02 June 2016

From left to right, Raphina Williams, Leanne Mohamad, London Fire Brigade borough commander Steve Brown and Usama Shazad. Picture: Jack Petchey Foundation

From left to right, Raphina Williams, Leanne Mohamad, London Fire Brigade borough commander Steve Brown and Usama Shazad. Picture: Jack Petchey Foundation

Archant

A charity has denounced claims Redbridge’s regional winner in a speakers’ competition was disqualified and silenced because of the nature of her speech.

The Speakers Trust released a statement saying the charity was “concerned and saddened” after one of its contestants received abuse following the speech she delivered during the contest.

Leanne Mohamad, 15, a Wanstead High School pupil, came under fire over the weekend after being accused of delivering an “anti-Israel” speech during the Jack Petchey’s Speak out Challenge on May 19.

The charity said Leanne was one of 37 regional winners, with 15 were selected to go through the grand finale a week before attacks on the speech were shared on the internet.

“This selection process took place on Saturday May 21 based on standard judging criteria and without any external influence or input,” the statement reads.

The video of Leanne’s speech was removed from the charity’s website over the bank holiday weekend.

The Speakers Trust explained, being a small organisation, they could not monitor the comments under the video 24 hours a day and the video was removed “to protect Leanne” until her family and the school had been consulted.

The statement added: “Our primary duty of care is to the young people we work with and we cannot tolerate any form of insult or abuse. We are concerned and saddened that Leanne’s experience has been less than positive.

“At the heart of what we do lies the determination that all of our young speakers, irrespective of background, race or creed, should be able to speak out in a safe and supportive environment.”

More to follow in this week’s Ilford Recorder.

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