Great news! Stu Peters, the Manx Radio presenter who was suspended for challenging the concept of “white privilege” in a heated discussion during a late-night phone-in, has been cleared of any wrongdoing. The Isle of Man’s Communications Commission – its equivalent of Ofcom – has completed its investigation and concluded that Stu did not breach the Programme Code. In a “decision notice” published on June 24, the regulator said:
Whilst issues surrounding race can be an emotive matter, the debate in question was conducted in a fair and measured way, and for the most part, in a calm and open manner.
This is a significant victory for the Free Speech Union, which went in to bat for Stu, one of its members. On June 7 it wrote to the Communications Commission, asking it to exonerate the presenter. We pointed out that whether you agree with Stu’s views or not, it’s clear that he was exercising his right to freedom of expression under Article 10 of the European Commission on Human Rights, which the Isle of Man is required to uphold under the Human Rights Act 2001.
Happily, the regulator agreed with us. The Commission noted that some of the language in the show – such as a caller using the word “coloured”, which Stu didn’t correct – was “insensitive”. But this wasn’t a reason to reprimand the presenter.
This must also be balanced against the provisions for freedom of expression in both the Code and the relevant Human Rights legislation which is clear that people are free to hold and express opinion without interference by public authority regardless of frontiers.
Toby Young, the General Secretary of the Free Speech Union, says:
The suspension of Stu Peters by Manx Radio and the investigation of him by the broadcasting regulator just because he challenged the concept of ‘white privilege’ is a clear breach of his right to free speech. The attempt to publicly shame people who don’t subscribe to the latest woke orthodoxies and rob them of their livelihoods is reminiscent of the struggle sessions during China’s Cultural Revolution. We would do well to remember that our grandparents fought and died to protect the right to challenge ideological dogma without being punished by the authorities.
Stu Peters says:
I am delighted to announce that I will be returning to Manx Radio’s Late Show on Wednesday 1st July.
I feel strongly that people should be able to discuss things rationally and respectfully – it’s the only way to resolve our differences – and worry that free speech for all could be under threat of being choked by some.
Manx Radio has acted properly and responsibly and I thank them for their faith in me. I would also like to thank the IOM Communications Commission for a thorough and fair report, and the thousands of people who have signed petitions and sent me messages of support. Of particular note is the Free Speech Union who took up my ‘cause’ and provided friendly guidance and practical advice – I would recommend them to anyone who has been told what to think or what to say.