Former equalities chief: Free speech censorship has ‘chilling effect’ on society

One of the authors of the 2010 Equality Act has spoken out against the “chilling effect” of censoring opinions in the media and universities.

Trevor Phillips said authorities in the UK are “panicking” that people might be offended by comments they disagree with.

The former Chairman of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission was speaking on the Today Programme with journalist Toby Young, who has recently launched the Free Speech Union.


Phillips, equalities chief from 2006 to 2012, cited examples of academics and feminists such as Germaine Greer who have been no-platformed for alleged ‘transphobic’ views.

He also highlighted the current controversy in the Labour party over proposals to expel members for believing in biological sex.

He added: “You don’t have to agree with somebody that that’s true to say that that’s a reasonable thing to debate.”

“Offending somebody is now becoming something punishable by sacking or exclusion.”

“Offending somebody is now becoming something punishable by sacking or exclusion.”


Earlier this month a judge ruled that police unlawfully interfered with the free speech of a man who opposed transgender ideology online.

A police officer visited Harry Miller’s place of work after receiving a complaint about a supposedly transphobic tweet, leaving Miller with the impression he could be prosecuted.

But Mr Justice Knowles strongly criticised the actions: “In this country we have never had a Cheka, a Gestapo or a Stasi. We have never lived in an Orwellian society.”