Two people have been arrested during a protest against the former head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) at Britain's Cambridge University.

Cambridgeshire Police said a 19-year-old man was arrested for assaulting a police officer while a 22-year-old woman was detained for a breach of the peace during Friday's demonstration against Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

The protesters, mainly women, had demanded the cancellation of Strauss-Kahn's speaking engagement, arguing that the French politician, who resigned last May after charges of rape, was not fit to address students.

There was tight security inside the venue with Strauss-Kahn flanked by four men during his speech and 25 guards brought in for the occasion.

As the demonstration gained momentum, Strauss-Kahn was bundled into the back of a police car, escaping about 150 demonstrators who waved banners and chanted "no more rape".

Strauss-Kahn faced sex assault charges in New York, but the criminal investigation was dropped in August for want of credible evidence.

A criminal investigation on attempted rape claims in Paris was also dropped in October.

The Cambridge Union Society defended his invitation, saying "Mr Strauss-Kahn had a right to free speech".

However, the Student Union Women's Campaign said the sex assault charges he had faced should have given the society "pause for thought" about who it extended its invitations to.

Sharp rebuke

Journalists were barred from covering Strauss-Kahn's speech, but one student asked him to explain vaginal bruising suffered by Nafissatou Diallo, the maid behind the sexual assault allegations.

Diallo, who is originally from Guinea, is now pursuing civil claims against Strauss-Kahn in New York. The first civil court hearing over her claims is scheduled for March 28.

Strauss-Kahn faces a civil court hearing in March [GALLO/GETTY]

Strauss-Kahn answered the question by saying "the reality is that I spent a week in prison. There hasn't been a prosecution".

Strauss-Kahn has mostly kept a low profile since New York prosecutors dismissed the charges on the grounds of Diallo's credibility.

The decision to host him provoked a sharp rebuke from the Cambridge University Students' Union Women's Campaign who had invited Diallo's lawyer to address students earlier in the day.

"For some strange reason Strauss-Khan believes he can go around the world and talk about the foreign debt crisis and the state of the European economy without being questioned about what he did to an innocent woman," Douglas Wigdor, the lawyer, told an auditorium packed with students.

Strauss-Kahn was also held for two days in January in a police station in France, where investigators questioned him about allegations that a prostitution ring organised by his business acquaintances provided women for clients of Lille's Carlton Hotel.

Police want to establish whether Strauss-Kahn knew that women at parties he attended in Lille, Paris and Washington were prostitutes. His lawyer has said he had no reason to think so.

Source: Agencies