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The State of Free Speech in Scotland

November 14, 2021 at 10:30 am - 4:30 pm UTC+0

A one-day symposium aimed at bringing together people from diverse perspectives to discuss ‘The State of Free Speech in Scotland’.

The event is invitation-only so that participants can be assured others in the room are of like mind, at least when it comes to the view that there is an urgent free speech problem to be addressed. We anticipate an audience of between 50 and 100 concerned individuals, convening for a networking event with three panel-led discussions (details below).

The Chatham House Rule will apply.


10.30-11.00 Registration (it is Remembrance Sunday, so the event will start at 11:05am).

11.05-11.15 Welcome by Toby Young, General Secretary, the Free Speech Union.

11.15-12.30 Why Scotland – what has happened to Enlightenment values?


    • Alastair Donald, Associate Director, Academy of Ideas.


    • Iain Macwhirter, columnist for The Herald, former Rector of the University of Edinburgh.
    • Ian Mitchell, author of ‘The Justice Factory: Can the Rule of Law Survive in 21st Century Scotland?’
    • Jim Sillars, former MP and SNP Deputy Leader.
    • Dr Asanga Welikala, Director, Edinburgh Centre for Constitutional Law, Edinburgh Law School.

12.30-13.30 Lunch

13.30-14.45 Freedom of speech in education – fostering curiosity, protecting intellectual freedom.


    • Toby Young


    • Sam Bayliss, undergraduate in English Literature at the University of Edinburgh and a Free Speech Champion.
    • Dr Shereen Benjamin, Senior Lecturer in Primary Education in the Moray House School of Education and Sport at the University of Edinburgh, focusing on educational inequalities.
    • Ann Henderson, former Rector of the University of Edinburgh, background in the trade union movement and women’s movement.
    • Dr Kirsty Miller, psychologist with experience of all levels of the Scottish education system, currently teaches in further and higher education, member of Don’t Divide Us.
    • Dr Neil Thin, Senior Lecturer in the School of Social and Political Science at the University of Edinburgh, focusing on happiness and social quality.

14.45-15.00 Tea break

15.00-16.15 From hate crime to compelled speech – what can be done?


    • Dr Jan Macvarish, Education and Events Director, the Free Speech Union.


    • Marion Calder, Director of For Women Scotland.
    • Joanna Cherry QC, MP for Edinburgh South West.
    • Dr Stuart Waiton, Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Criminology at Abertay University, columnist for The Herald, author of ‘Snobs’ Law: Criminalising Football Fans in an Age of Intolerance’.

16.15 Closing remarks.

16.30 Informal drinks in a local pub


November 14, 2021
10:30 am - 4:30 pm UTC+0
Event Category:


The Free Speech Union
020 3920 7865
View Organiser Website


Radisson Blu Hotel
80 High Street
Edinburgh, EH1 1TH United Kingdom
+ Google Map
View Venue Website