Oxford University has responded after 16 people were arrested following a sit-in at a university office building yesterday.

16 protesters who gained access to a private office were arrested on suspicion of aggravated trespass.

One of the 16 was arrested on suspicion of common assault.

Oxford Action for Palestine group shared footage of police pushing protesters from the steps of the office building in Wellington Square after a group of students staged a demonstration in vice chancellor Irene Tracey's office.

In a statement the university said the "forced entry and temporary occupation" caused "significant distress for members of reception staff and the wider staff community".

"Contrary to claims by OA4P, or to selectively edited videos posted online, this was not a peaceful sit-in, but a violent action that included forcibly overpowering the receptionist, and then entry into the Vice-Chancellor’s office while she was on a call, shouting and starting to barricade the doors," it said.

It said it was "clear that a faction of students and faculty claiming to represent OA4P [Oxford Action for Palestine] have not been interested in dialogue in good faith" and had made demands "against the background of threat of escalation for non-compliance".

The statement said: "On 21st May, a delegation of faculty, supportive of the encampment, met with senior colleagues, asking the University to enter into ‘negotiations’ with the OA4P.

"They claimed not to represent the group but to wish to foster dialogue. 

"The day after this meeting, 22nd May, some of those same colleagues were represented to the Vice-Chancellor as the OA4P ‘negotiating team’.

"The email demanded formal meetings with the Vice-Chancellor and a blanket amnesty, and threatened escalatory action if the University did not respond within 24 hours. 

"Less than 24 hours later, around 16 students forcibly entered the building, physically handling the receptionist, invading the Vice-Chancellor’s Office, and causing significant distress to staff present in the building.

"Contrary to claims by OA4P, this was not a ‘peaceful sit-in’, but a violent action designed to escalate tensions."  

Responding to the encampment outside the Pitt Rivers Museum, the university said: "It is clear that the actions of some of the protesters involved in the encampment have created a deeply intimidating environment for many members of our community, including our Jewish students and staff and members of the local Jewish community.

"It is imperative that the University feels safe for all our members, and the actions of some of the protesters have undermined those foundational principles of dignity, care and respect which we must all maintain."

The statement also said: "Over recent days, the Oxford Action for Palestine (OA4P) protest group has escalated their protest actions from mainly peaceful to direct action tactics while making inaccurate statements and claims about the University.

"This incident follows the targeting of graduations and other events, the intentional disruption of our students’ ability to study for their exams, and putting up defamatory posters of the Vice-Chancellor across Oxford, all of which we have evidenced as coming from the encampment."