The FSU’s Fourth Anniversary Party

The FSU celebrated its fourth birthday on Tuesday night at Lola’s, the downstairs bar at the Hippodrome Casino in Leicester Square. It was an appropriate venue, given that gambling, like free speech, has an array of political forces gunning for it.

The FSU celebrated its fourth birthday on Tuesday night at Lola’s, the downstairs bar at the Hippodrome Casino in Leicester Square. It was an appropriate venue, given that gambling, like free speech, has an array of political forces gunning for it. In his speech, Toby Young, the FSU’s General Secretary, joked that this time next year the casino may have become a gender identity clinic and forced to rename itself the ‘Snippodrome’.

Capacity at Lola’s is limited to about 150 people, so we weren’t able to invite all the people we’d have liked, but we did manage to squeeze in our staff, various members of our Advisory Councils, some prominent supporters and several people who we’ve helped in the past year. Founder members were also invited, one of the perks of membership. Ben Jones, our Director of Case Operations and Outreach, interviewed some of the attendees and we hope to share that video with you soon.

During his speech, Toby read out a supportive message from Kemi Badenoch, the Business Secretary and Women and Equalities Minister:

I am so sorry I can’t be there to join you for your fourth anniversary. I know the impact you’ve had through the legal support you provide – support which has helped people through some of the toughest times in their lives. I remember when some sniggered at the need for an organisation defending something so obvious as a person’s right to free speech – no one is laughing now. You are now a core part of the British intellectual ecosystem. Congratulations, well done and keep on fighting for freedom!

As the FSU’s Communications Officer, I made a short film about some of our more high-profile successes in the past year or so that was shown at the party and which you can view here.

Tuesday night was a great opportunity to celebrate how far we’ve come in the past four years. We’ve now fought over 2,300 cases and, as Ben says in the film, where those cases have been concluded we’ve achieved a successful outcome 72% of the time. The number of members is approaching 13,000 and by the end of this year we expect to have 20 people on staff. We recently relaunched our website, with plenty of content just available for members, so if you haven’t explored that yet do take a look.

But in spite of our successes, this is no time for complacency. In his speech Toby rattled off a list of the looming threats to free speech and it was depressingly long. Nonetheless, with the continuing support of our members, as well as our advisers and supporters, we hope to win many more battles to come.