Media

Worcester College warned of “unlawful discrimination” against Christians

Following the inquiry, Toby Young, the General Secretary of the Free Speech Union, wrote a letter to David Isaac, saying that “the College’s uncritical acceptance of claims that the conference harmed students was a serious error. In keeping with, as you put it yourself, your own and the College’s commitment to freedom of speech, the College should have investigated and faced down students’ ill-founded complaints. No higher education institution should apologise for free speech.”

Estelle Atkinson, Cherwell, 25th March 2022.

Bryn Harris: Free Speech is an afterthought for the Online Safety Bill

The Online Safety Bill has been laid before Parliament. Ministers, including Nadine Dorries last week, have worked hard to persuade voters that the Bill contains important safeguards for free speech online. Are they right?

Dr Bryn Harris, Conservative Home, 22nd March 2022.

Discrimination row after Oxford college cancels Christian event

The Free Speech Union has now written to Mr Isaac calling for him to apologise and to reinstate the booking for the next Wilberforce Academy conference in September. In the letter, seen by The Telegraph, Toby Young says the “uncritical acceptance of claims that the conference harmed students was a serious error. The College should have investigated and faced down students’ ill-founded complaints. No higher education institution should apologise for free speech,” wrote Mr Young, the union’s general secretary. He added: “You do not need reminding that refusing to provide the College’s services because of Christian Concern’s religious beliefs would constitute unlawful discrimination. We continue to stand by Christian Concern and will provide whatever legal and financial assistance we deem appropriate should this matter escalate.”

Hayley Dixon, The Telegraph, 20th March 2022.

Human rights watchdogs urged to investigate university over claims it discriminated against race tsar it denied an honorary degree

Free Speech Union chief Toby Young has written to both the university’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Shearer West, and the Equality and Human Rights Commission. The correspondence, seen by The Mail on Sunday, suggests that Dr Sewell, who runs a charity helping black children get into higher education, had been sidelined as he “voiced views which, in the minds of some, black people ought not to hold”. Mr Young pointed to a number of people given honorary degrees by Nottingham despite being mired in controversy. They included King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand – “despite his alleged collusion with far-Right militias” – Liu Xiaoming, China’s former UK ambassador who “dismissed reports of Uighur camps as fake news”, and ex-Malaysian prime minister and convicted money launderer Najib Razak.

Georgia Edkins, The Mail On Sunday, 20th March 2022.

My football analogy for the free speech debate

By the time you read this the new draft of the Online Safety Bill should be on the DCMS website. I haven’t seen it yet, but I have a pretty good idea of what’s in it because I’m one of dozens who’ve been urging ministers and officials behind the scenes to strengthen the free speech protections in the bill. For those not up to speed, the aim of the bill (in the words of Nadine Dorries, the Secretary of State at DCMS) is ‘to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online’, i.e., turn the internet into a safe space.

Toby Young, The Spectator, 19th March 2022.

Woke Online Safety Bill Keeps “Legal But Harmful”

The Bill has managed to unite Toby Young’s Free Speech Union, gender critical feminists, LGBT groups, and the churches in opposition. The civil service has been so captured by woke special interest groups that the Bill released today creates a legal requirement for perfectly legal content to be taken off the internet. You’ll no longer be free to say online what you could say legally in a pub…

Guido Fawkes, 17th March 2022.

The new Online Safety Bill: better, but still awful

Twitter permanently suspended one Free Speech Union member for posting the following comment: “Women are females. Trans women are not female & never will be.” In another case, a woman was suspended from Facebook for 24 hours for breaching its “bullying and harassment” policy for saying to a trans activist “go away silly troll”.

Jennifer Powers, The Post by UnHerd, 17th March 2022.

The Tories are still empowering tech firms to repress our free speech

It may be true, as the Government tells its MPs, that the worst aspects of the bill are being watered down – not least due to arguments made by a small army of free speech advocates (including the Free Speech Union, whose advisory board I serve on).

Juliet Samuel, The Telegraph, 5th March 2022.

Academics urge Cardiff Uni to “denounce harassment” by trans activists

Toby Young, General Secretary of The Free Speech Union, said: “Cardiff University has completely failed to intervene while militant trans activists have created a culture of abject fear, with anyone who opposes their ideology afraid to speak out.”

The Christian Institute, 3rd March 2022.

Lecturers at UK universities are self-censoring to avoid offending Chinese students: Up to 44% of tutors say they miss topics in online lessons with 66% fearing a threat to academic freedom

Toby Young, General Secretary of the Free Speech Union, said: “The people who deny there’s a free speech crisis in British universities often point to the fact that only a handful of academics are no-platformed each year. But that’s the tip of the iceberg. As George Orwell pointed out in the introduction to Animal Farm, the most ubiquitous form of censorship is self-censorship and we know from surveys and polls that a huge number of academics are self-censoring.”

James Gant, MailOnline, 23rd February 2022.