The Free Speech Union has written to Professor Paul Layzell, the Principal of Royal Holloway, part of the University of London, objecting to the no-platforming of the ex-Labour MP Chris Williamson. Mr Williamson was originally invited to the Royal Holloway Debating Society, but the invitation was rescinded after some objections were raised by the local Labour Party and a number of student societies. We believe Royal Holloway is in breach of its own policy on upholding free speech and could well be in breach of s.43 of the Education (No.2) Act 1986. No-platforming a speaker at the behest of those who disagree with the speaker’s political views after an invitation has already gone out is also contrary to the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s official guidance. We have asked Professor Layzell to intervene and ensure that the invitation to Mr Williamson is reissued and the debate goes ahead as planned.
UPDATE: We have received a response from the Royal Holloway Students’ Union – see below for details.
UPDATE: We have also received a response from Prof Layzell – see below for details.
Royal Holloway Students’ Union replied as follows:Response_RHSU_Toby_Young
We replied as follows:2020-10-22-Letter-to-Royal-Holloway-SU
Their reply was as follows:Free-Speech-Union-Letter-November-2020
Prof Layzell then responded as follows:2020-12-09-Layzell-re-Chris-Williamson