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This page provides occasional items, linked to the original articles, as we attempt to keep up with the rapidly changing situation on civil liberties.
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1st Jan to 9th Sept 2005

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Some recent freedom of speech stories

Posted by James Hammerton @ 10:53 pm on 15 May, 2010.
Categories freedom of speech, British politics.
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Update: This story also highlights how far freedom of speech has been weakened. The police barged into a man’s house and handcuffed him in order to remove a poster he had up in his window calling David Cameron a “wanker”.

Freedom of speech was attacked by the previous Labour government in various ways, both of the following stories illustrates the legacy they’ve left on this issue:

A man was given an ASBO, community service and a suspended jail sentence for putting leaflets mocking Jesus, the Pope and Islam in an airport prayer room.

A christian preacher was arrested for claiming that homosexuality is a sin.

In both cases, it seems to me that merely saying something or distributing literature that someone takes offence to is being punished. I may disagree with the views being expressed here, but the individuals concerned should have the right to peacefully express those views to anyone willing to listen.

The new coalition government has promised to review libel laws to protect freedom of speech. They should also review the public order legislation to protect the right to peaceful expression of one’s views.

Britain’s coalition government promises to strengthen civil liberties

From Section 10 of the coalition agreement between the Tories and the Liberal Democrats:

The parties agree to implement a full programme of measures to reverse the substantial erosion of civil liberties under the Labour Government and roll back state intrusion.

This will include:

  • A Freedom or Great Repeal Bill.
  • The scrapping of ID card scheme, the National Identity register, the next generation of biometric passports and the Contact Point Database.
  • Outlawing the finger-printing of children at school without parental permission.
  • The extension of the scope of the Freedom of Information Act to provide greater transparency.
  • Adopting the protections of the Scottish model for the DNA database.
  • The protection of historic freedoms through the defence of trial by jury.
  • The restoration of rights to non-violent protest.
  • The review of libel laws to protect freedom of speech.
  • Safeguards against the misuse of anti-terrorism legislation.
  • Further regulation of CCTV.
  • Ending of storage of internet and email records without good reason.
  • A new mechanism to prevent the proliferation of unnecessary new criminal offences.

If they’re as good as their word, this will be a promising start to ending and reversing the onslaught on civil liberties Britain has seen over the last 15 to 20 years or so.

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