Christian MPs welcome Govt’s stance on uni free speech

Christian MPs and campaigners have welcomed the Government’s defence of free speech on university campuses.

In December, the House of Lords voted to scrap a clause in the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill that included a statutory tort to allow academics and students to seek compensation in the courts if they think their free speech rights were breached.

But the House of Commons has now rejected the amendment, arguing that civil proceedings are an “important means of obtaining a remedy for breach of duties imposed by the Bill”.

‘Bolster free speech’

Supporting the Government’s position, Miriam Cates MP said the Bill, with the inclusion of the clause, would bolster free speech and academic freedoms and “perhaps nudge us back in the direction of truth and reality”.

Noting the rise of censorship of those opposed to radical gender ideology, she added: “The consequence of the lack of academic freedom has been serious harm to women and children.”

Danny Kruger MP agreed, saying we need voices of people who believe in “biology and the rights and obligations of parents and other common sense ideas. They need the freedom to speak without fear of abuse, of being cancelled, silenced and losing their job.”

Clear message

Jo Phoenix, a professor of criminology who quit the Open University after it failed to protect her right to free speech in the face of attacks by transgender activists, said ministers were right to scrap the “horrendous” amendment.

She said: “Without this clause, the pathway for an individual to seek redress was going to be so convoluted as to be practically impossible.

“Retaining the tort element sends a message to universities that they do need to take some responsibility for the actions of their staff and students because there is now a more direct route to financial compensation.”

The Bill will now return to the Lords.

Also see:

University of Hull

Hostile woke culture stifling free speech in universities

Sharp rise in rejected speakers on campuses raises free speech concerns

Gender-critical prof quits after campaign of abuse by trans activists