Yesterday, Mail on Sunday columnist Peter Hitchens announced his decision to pull out of a planned Union debate because of the presence of writer, actor and comedian Stephen Fry.
The debate, entitled 'This House would Disestablish the Church of England', is due to take place on 29 January and would have seen both Hitchens and Fry oppose the motion.
However, on his blog, Hitchens announced: "I have just withdrawn from a Cambridge Union debate, rather than speak on the same side as Stephen Fry."
Hitchens went on to explain himself: "I simply cannot bring myself to accept that Mr Fry, an active and assertive atheist, is seriously in favour of Establishment." He also admitted to personally disliking his debating partner: "I confess it, I do not much like Mr Fry… I disagree with almost every opinion he has ever uttered.”
The columnist's acceptance of the invitation to the debate was based, Hitchens asserts, on the assumption that Fry would be on the opposite side of the debate. "I had very much hoped to be able to argue against Mr Fry on a substantial issue in front of an audience. I thought this might be the best possible answer to the various personal insults he has directed at me." This statement followed a series of links to previous blog posts by Hitchens, detailing his views on Fry and referencing a previous occasion in which Fry had called Hitchens a "slug."
The Cambridge Union Society has confirmed the news to The Cambridge Student. Press Officer Max Twivy commented: "Peter Hitchens has pulled out of our week 3 debate due to his personal feelings on speaking alongside one of the other speakers involved. " However, the Union also offered assurances that "the debate had an extra speaker on opposition, and thus Mr. Hitchens pulling out will not affect the running of the debate in any way."