In the Media

Articles That Mention the Free Speech Union

White middle-aged men are “bottom of everything” says bank worker sacked over N word

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Mr Borg-Neal was only able to take the case on after signing up to the Free Speech Union (FSU), a campaign group that – to use common parlance – rails against modern day “wokery”.
Karolien Celie, the FSU’s legal officer, said: “Mr Borg-Neal was treated abysmally by his employer and we are delighted that justice has been served in his case. Mr Borg-Neal’s case is a timely reminder for employers not to be blinded by dogma but to treat each employee fairly in accordance with the law and in a spirit of tolerance, open-mindedness and good faith.”

Robert Mendick, The Telegraph, 5th January 2024.

Debanking: a corporate war on the unwoke

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A headline in the Telegraph in November read: ‘Nigel Farage helps get new word into the dictionary.’ That word, of course, is ‘debanking’. Though I’m pretty sure it was me who coined it when my PayPal accounts were closed in 2022.
Nevertheless, Farage has certainly played his part in popularising it after he was kicked out of Coutts last summer. Thanks to his masterful handling of that dispute, the CEOs of both Coutts and its parent bank, NatWest, had to resign. And now everyone knows what debanking means.

Toby Young, Spiked, 1st January 2024.

Cosmetic surgery firm sues customers over negative reviews

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Bryn Harris, the FSU chief counsel, said it was alarming that abusive litigation tactics were being deployed against consumers sharing honest opinions about services they had paid for.
“Unlike journalists and authors, who are the usual targets of Slapps, our members did not have legal representation or the backing of a publisher. I don’t think it would occur to anyone posting an online review that they would ever need legal advice.”

Fiona Hamilton, The Times, 18th December 2023.

Cosmetic surgery chain Signature Clinic SUES customers who left bad reviews online for defamation – as company comes under fire for “using legal action to try to silence critics”

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Toby Young, General Secretary of the Free Speech Union, told MailOnline: ‘Unhappy customers should be able to tell people about their bad experiences on sites like Trustpilot without fear of being sued for defamation.
“My father Michael Young started Which! magazine, so defending people’s right to write reviews of consumer goods and services without fear or favour is following in the family tradition.”

Tom Cotterill, MailOnline, 18th December 2023.

Free speech “deteriorating” as sector waits for OfS interventions

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Bryn Harris, the chief legal counsel for the Free Speech Union, which campaigned heavily for the new legislation, said the Gaza situation had been “very difficult for university leaders” but “they must acknowledge too that some Jewish students are facing threat and provocation that don’t fall within free speech and are considerably more grave than the ‘microaggressions’ often policed by universities”.

Tom Williams, Times Higher Education, 18th December 2023.

The global march of censorship

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Toby Young, founder and director of the Free Speech Union (FSU), joined Brendan O’Neill on the latest episode of The Brendan O’Neill Show to discuss the global march of censorship and how we can fight back. What follows is an edited extract from their conversation.

Spiked, 12th December 2023.

Even Tommy Robinson has the right to protest

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I was at the march against antiSemitism in London on Sunday, but did not witness the arrest of Tommy Robinson. I’m thankful for that because I wouldn’t have known how to react in my capacity as head of the Free Speech Union. Whether the Met was right to arrest him (and subsequently charge him) requires careful thought and the fact that the answer isn’t obvious makes me sympathise with the operational commander who had to make a decision.

Toby Young, The Spectator, 2nd December 2023.

The future is bright for academic freedom

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These organisations join the well-established Academics for Academic Freedom group, with branches being formed in numerous Universities across the UK at a fast pace; and the well-known Free Speech Union, which supports many academics and higher education staff in their free speech disputes.

James Murray, The Critic, 24th November 2023.

Civil servants temporarily deleted clause barring teachers from pushing political views

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Bryn Harris, the chief legal counsel at the Free Speech Union, said: “Academy funding agreements are where schools go to understand what their obligations are.”
“There’s a real risk that absent a clear employment agreement, academy schools may actually not know their legal obligation regarding impartiality. It’s not just that it leaves the academy not knowing what their duties are, it may also complicate enforcing those duties with the relevant regulator.”
Analysis of 14 academy school funding agreements by the Free Speech Union in 2021 found that seven did not have “anti-indoctrination” clauses.

Louisa Clarence-Smith, The Telegraph, 20th November 2023.