A leading think-tank has called on the Westminster Government to implement a UK-wide Free Speech Act.
A briefing paper from the Adam Smith Institute (ASI) highlighted Holyrood’s hate crime Bill and proposals in Westminster’s Online Harms White Paper as new threats to freedom of expression.
ASI argued that Parliament should “take a stand against state censorship” and legislate to protect freedom of expression.
In the publication, ASI author Preston J. Byrne described the present protections as an imprecise “hodgepodge of poorly designed laws” that are “woefully inadequate”.
The time is ripe for Parliament to step in to restore this most essential and ancient of our liberties.
Consequently, Byrne argued, the power to censor free speech now lay in the hands of the “easily offended” and protected “the heckler, not the speaker”.
He concluded: “The time is ripe for Parliament to step in to restore this most essential and ancient of our liberties.”
Commenting on the Scottish hate crime Bill, the paper warned: “The law enters everyday life like never before, policing what you can say even in your own home.”
In its response to Holyrood’s Justice Committee on the proposed legislation, The Christian Institute – which is opposing the Bill – said it risks creating a “chilling effect on free speech”.