It is with genuine regret that Shammi Kapoor will not be attending the AKO Expo which is taking place on Saturday 11th March, 2017 at Brunel University.

Shammi is a young man who has been diagnosed as having an ASD and also ADHD who has also suffered from depression; he was scheduled to speak about a therapeutic approach which he claims has been extremely valuable to him.

When inviting Shammi to speak at the Expo, the motivation of the charity was to give a person diagnosed with autism a platform to share their ideas whilst at the same time encouraging people to evaluate any claims made calmly, respectfully, reasonably and objectively.

Despite making it clear that AKO neither supports nor refutes the approach preferred by Shammi, a number of individuals have been very assiduous in their opposition to him being a speaker. It is noted with regret that many of the said protestations have what can reasonably be described as an unfortunate and unpleasant tone. Whilst no formal written, evidence based objections have be made to the charity regarding Shammi, concerns were heightened considerably when the charity was informed verbally by one of the agitants, a Ms Fiona O’Leary, that demonstrators would protest at the conference if Shammi was allowed to speak. Subsequent investigations found that Ms O’Leary’s promise of direct action had been repeated elsewhere and this raises many possible risks not just for the charity but also for the attendees, a significant number who whom will be children who, like Shammi, also have an ASD.

The charity is very aware that, having organised the Expo, it must not expose either the participants or attendees to any unnecessary physical or mental harm.  The charity did consider increasing the security presence at the Expo, but this would impose punishing financial burden and drain the limited resources of the charity which, of course, it is under a duty to protect. Importantly, it is  and a manifest security presence would destroy the nurturing and co-operative environment AKO tries hard to create.  Finally, given the said behaviour, AKO cannot be absolutely sure that the promised direct physical action would be limited only to the conference if Shammi participated at this Expo.

Having regard to all the potential risks to Shammi, the other speakers and also the attendees, it is deemed the expo will be safer for all if Shammi is not present and therefore it has been agreed he will not attend the AKO Expo.

This is not a decision the charity has taken lightly but AKO believes that its hand has been forced as it cannot put the wellbeing of Shammi and the other attendees at risk. On a personal level, AKO wishes Shammi and his family well and offer him its sincere best wishes for the future as it is understood that this enforced change has caused him substantial distress.

In conclusion, it is now hoped that the conference can go ahead as planned and the charity looks forward to being able to continue its work supporting the ASD community.

Sean Kennedy

6th March, 2017