Member’s ‘non-crime hate incident’ record deleted by police
We’ve succeeded in getting a ‘non-crime hate incident’ (NCHI) permanently deleted from the police record of one of our members, thanks to Harry Miller’s victory in the Court of Appeal. This is a major victory because if we can do it once, we can do it again. The member, who we are not naming, had a nonsensical NCHI recorded against him which could have barred from him working with children or vulnerable adults. We wrote to the local police force on his behalf and the record has now been removed for good.
Our member said: “Without the help of the FSU I would not have cleared this injustice. I really am so grateful.”
If you think you have an NCHI recorded against you, take a look at our FAQs on how to find out if you really do and, if so, how to get it deleted. If you are a member, our case team will be happy to assist. You can reach them on [email protected].
Government throws out plans to censure un-woke MPs
The Government heeded our recommendations in response to Labour MP Chris Bryant’s proposal to add “respect” to the Parliamentary Code and compel MPs to “demonstrate anti-discriminatory attitudes and behaviours through the promotion of anti-racism, inclusion and diversity”. The Government’s response to the consultation, based closely on our submission, said:
Whilst the Government does not consider it necessary to adjust the descriptors specifically in relation to Members of Parliament (or the Lords), we think it is of overarching importance to emphasise tolerance of different viewpoints and protect free debate when considering any changes.
We would not want to stifle legitimate debate on politically contentious issues which are important to our democracy – as an indirect consequence of the proposed new requirement for ‘anti-discriminatory attitudes’ or demonstrating ‘inclusion and diversity’. This could have a chilling effect on free speech on contentious and polarised political issues.
Guido Fawkes, commenting on the centrality of free speech in the Government’s response, said: “This point is something supported by the Free Speech Union, who submitted evidence as part of the consultation arguing against adding the ‘respect’ principle, which would ‘attempt to regulate’ the ‘attitudes’ of MPs, i.e., their views and opinions.”
New online regime promises era of chilling censorship
We are deeply alarmed by the Online Safety Bill, which seeks to prohibit ‘legal but harmful’ speech online. In our press release, we said: “This is an affront to democracy and we will be working closely with our allies across Parliament to help the Government improve the Bill.” Our Chief Legal Counsel Bryn Harris observed that “a government cannot protect free expression while also trying to prohibit harmful speech” in Conservative Home. Our Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs Jennifer Powers said in UnHerd that the “Online Safety Bill is being brought before Parliament with the best of intentions” but “it remains an awful Bill”.
In the Telegraph, our Advisory Council member Juliet Samuel described the Bill as “a charter for censoring the entire internet” and said:
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). But even with adjustments, the legislation is still primed to send the repressive instincts of the tech companies into overdrive.
Guido Fawkes noted that “the Bill has managed to unite Toby Young’s Free Speech Union, gender critical feminists, LGBT groups, and the churches in opposition”. And in the Spectator, I set out how we’d like to amend the Bill:
So what me and my lot have been lobbying for – so far, to no avail – is as follows. First, we’d like to see a free speech duty included in the bill whereby providers are legally obliged to take all reasonable steps to ensure that the right to freedom of expression is not unduly infringed by excessive measures taken to comply with the duties of care under the bill or the social media companies’ own terms and conditions. Second, a requirement for each provider to publish a policy setting out how it will comply with this free speech duty.
Failing this, we’d at least like the ‘have regard [for free speech]’ language to be beefed up to ‘have particular regard’.
No-platforming of Helen Joyce
The journalist Helen Joyce, author of Trans: When Ideology Meets Reality, was no-platformed by the Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital after trans rights activists objected to her presence on a panel at a one-day NHS conference about the treatment of children with gender dysphoria. (You can read about that episode in the Telegraph.) We’ve written to the Chief Executive of the Hospital asking him to apologise to Dr Joyce and re-arrange for her to speak. If he responds, we’ll publish his reply beneath our letter.
Meanwhile, the FSU was one of several organisations to criticise the Government’s proposal to pass a law banning conversion therapy and, collectively, we appear to have prompted the Prime Minister to think again. (You can read our response to the consultation about the proposed ban here.) In essence, the problem with the new law is that ‘conversion therapy’ isn’t properly defined which means the ban could extend to referring children suffering from gender dysphoria to therapists – anything other than affirming their self-diagnosis, and encouraging them to undergo irreversible medical procedures, could become unlawful. After initially saying it would ditch the proposal, the Government is now saying it will press on with the ban but carve out an exception for the treatment of transgender people.
Our call for an independent inquiry into harassment of gender critical academics at Cardiff
We’ve been helping a group of academics at Cardiff who’ve been victimised and threatened by transactivists for asking the University to review its membership of Stonewall’s Diversity Champions programme. Cardiff has failed to take appropriate action, despite threats of violence against these academics, and has even misplaced evidence relating to the case.
We wrote to Cardiff’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Colin Riordan, and urged him to set up an independent inquiry into the University’s failure to properly investigate the matter. We also presented new evidence of continuing efforts to threaten and intimidate our members at Cardiff. In his reply, Professor Riordan rejected our call for an investigation, claiming the protests and the threats didn’t take place on campus. We have responded in detail, correcting his misunderstandings and urging him to think again. You can read that correspondence here.
Freedom of Speech Bill to be carried over into next parliamentary session
Good news about the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill we campaigned for: the Government has arranged for a Carry Over motion for the Bill on 25th April, meaning it will not be lost and instead carried over into the next parliamentary session, at which point it should become law. We were concerned that the Bill, which had its first reading in the House of Commons in May 2021, had lost momentum, but the Government is determined to see it through.
Help us challenge indoctrination in schools
Nadhim Zahawi seems to be taking woke indoctrination in schools seriously, following our success in pushing for guidance to be published on the importance of political impartiality in schools. He told the Conservative Party Conference that this was a “complaint I’m hearing more and more” and that some teachers were “keen to either shut down free speech, or to only present one side of an opinion”.
We gave evidence to the Department for Education demonstrating the extent of the problem. We’re currently looking for further examples of politically biased teaching in schools, so if you have any concerns please contact us on [email protected]. In addition, if you have come across examples of teachers or schools invoking the concept of ‘respect’ to stifle criticism of different faiths or beliefs, or to shut down debate, please send them to us as well.
We’ve written again to David Isaac, the Provost of Worcester College, Oxford, asking him to retract his apology to students after they complained about the use of College facilities by the Wilberforce Academy, a summer school run by Christian Concern. In addition, we urged him to withdraw the ban he imposed on further bookings by the Academy.
Isaac apologised last year – and announced the ban – after students accused the attendees of the three-day event of “aggressive leafleting” and other misdemeanours, but an independent investigation carried out by a charity lawyer has found no evidence to support these allegations. You can read our letter here and a report in the Telegraph about the episode here.
Our appeal to the Equality and Human Rights Commission after Nottingham withdraws honour for race report author Tony Sewell
We have lodged a complaint with the Equality and Human Rights Commission and written to Nottingham University after it withdrew its offer of an honorary degree to Tony Sewell on the basis that Dr Sewell is the subject of “political controversy”. Sewell, who chaired the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, had received criticism and abuse when the Commission published its report last year because it concluded that British society, while far from being free of racism, is not “institutionally racist”.
We identified a number of people to whom Nottingham has awarded honorary doctorates in spite of being embroiled in political controversy – for instance, the former Chinese Ambassador to Britain who dismissed reports of Uighurs being interned in prison camps in China as “fake news” – and asked whether the University discriminated against Sewell because he holds “views which, in the minds of some, black people ought not to hold”. You can read more about our complaint in the Mail on Sunday here.
Ousted from counter-extremism think tank for warning about far-left extremism
This month we’ve helped people from all walks of life – NHS staff, scientists, students, teachers – with cases ranging from people being kicked off social media for questioning trans ideology, to members losing their jobs and livelihoods for comments made outside of work. People contact us every week who never imagined they’d need our support. Help us to help them: if you can, please donate to our general fighting fund.
One FSU member we’ve been supporting is Craig McCann, formerly of the Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right. He wrote in an article earlier this year:
I am increasingly concerned at the rate at which the so-called ‘CVE field’ [countering violent extremism] is being infiltrated by activists describing themselves as ‘Anti-Fascists’ who advocate for committing criminal offences in furtherance of their opposition to the radical right.
The response to his piece was a whirlwind of abuse, the resignation of the think tank’s Director, and the expulsion of Dr McCann. He only found out about the expulsion from friends; nobody from the think tank bothered to contact him to notify him or offer an explanation. You can read his account of this deeply troubling case in Quillette.
Only a small proportion of our cases can ever be reported publicly, but we’ve had some important successes in recent weeks that I hope to share with you shortly.
FSU Chairman Nigel Biggar triumphs in campaign to protect Rustat memorial at Jesus College
Congratulation to our Chairman Nigel Biggar who successfully campaigned along with others to retain a seventeenth-century memorial at Jesus College, Cambridge to its benefactor Tobias Rustat, who had some financial involvement in the transatlantic slave trade. The Diocese of Ely ruled that the memorial should remain at the College and said that activists seeking the memorial’s removal had created a “false narrative” about the extent of Rustat’s involvement in slavery. You can read a great piece by Dominic Sandbrook on the Rustat affair here and an article in the Times about it by Professor Biggar here.
Join the Free Speech Union
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