Dear Mike Buchanan,
Welcome to the FSU’s weekly newsletter, our round-up of the free speech news of the week. As with all our work, this newsletter depends on the support of our members and donors, so if you’re not already a paying member please sign up today or encourage a friend to join and help turn the tide against cancel culture. You can share our newsletters on social media with the buttons at the bottom of this email (although not if you’re reading this on a desktop). If someone has shared this newsletter with you and you’d like to join the FSU, you can find our website here.
FSU writes to West Yorkshire Police over arrest of autistic girl for ‘hate crime’
Last week we wrote to the Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police, John Robins, outlining our concerns about the arrest of a 16 year-old autistic girl on suspicion of committing a ‘hate crime’ for telling a female officer: “You look like my lesbian nana.”
It’s good to see that Mr Robins has now listened – late on Friday evening, West Yorkshire Police Force did the right thing and announced that it had released the girl and was dropping its investigation (Telegraph).
As we pointed out in our letter, the fact that an arrest was made in the first place raises serious concerns about officers’ lack of understanding of free speech.
According to West Yorkshire Police, the girl was arrested for a “homophobic public order offence”.
However, the girl’s behaviour simply doesn’t meet the threshold for an offence under the Public Order Act. The WPC at the centre of this incident may well have felt irritated or insulted by the girl’s remark. But there’s no evidence that the comment was malicious, and irritation is not grounds for the arrest of an autistic child.
In addition, the comment was made in her own home and, as far as we can tell from the video, the police officer was also in the same house.
As per the Public Order Act, a defence if a person is accused of “intentional harassment, alarm or distress” is that the accused was “inside a dwelling and had no reason to believe that the words or behaviour used… would be heard or seen by a person outside that or any other dwelling”.
Since the exchange between the girl and the female officer took place inside the girl’s home – we think – that defence is surely applicable in this case.
We also expressed concern about the possibility that a non-crime hate incident (or NCHI) was recorded against the girl’s name.
Although the case against the girl has now been closed, we are seeking assurance from West Yorkshire Police that an NCHI wasn’t recorded.
As per our letter, we repeat our call for Mr Robins’s officers to now undergo training on Article 10 of the Human Rights Act 1998 to help them better understand the importance of free speech.
Help Dr Almut Gadow stand against indoctrination and for academic freedom!
This week we’re excited to be launching a legal Crowdfunder for our member, ex-law lecturer at the Open University (OU) Dr Almut Gadow. This is our most ambitious Crowdfunder yet, and for good reason: not only does Dr Gadow deserve justice for the egregious way she has been treated, but in the words of Kathleen Stock this case “will be of great significance, not just to University staff, but to the young minds they teach in future”.
With a legal team provided free of charge by the FSU, Dr Gadow is launching a legal claim in the Employment Tribunal, arguing, among other things, that she was unfairly dismissed, harassed, and discriminated against because she questioned the introduction of gender identity ideology into the OU’s law curriculum, and stood up for the right to academic freedom.
When Dr Gadow was told she needed to play her part in ‘liberating the curriculum’ – by, for example, teaching students to use the preferred pronouns of fictional protagonists included in criminal law teaching materials – she raised some concerns. She suggested, in a private OU staff forum, that this might be an unnecessary distraction, potentially unwise and even unlawful.
To her disbelief, her questions and requests for engagement on the matter were described as unreasonable and as creating an environment that is not “inclusive, trans-friendly or respectful” by managers who spotted her posts on the forum. Months later, her contributions to this online forum would be cited as reasons for her dismissal.
Academic free expression is at the heart of Dr Gadow’s tribunal case. Academic freedom is protected by Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights and is set out in a string of judgments by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). The ECtHR has held that Article 10 protects academics who question their institutions or curricula.
UK courts have yet to properly consider ECtHR case law on academic freedom and, in seeking judicial guidance on this from an English employment tribunal by way of Dr Gadow’s case, we’re hopeful that these Article 10 protections can be entrenched in domestic law. Dr Gadow is also arguing that valuing academic freedom is itself a protected belief under the Equality Act 2010. Establishing this in law could protect many other academics whose careers are threatened by the rising tide of intolerance on UK campuses.
In the words of Dr Bryn Harris, the FSU’s Chief Legal Counsel, “This case provides the best opportunity yet to establish a strong legal precedent in favour of academic free expression that will protect all UK academics under threat because of their lawful views, especially those who believe in the reality of biological sex.”
Scotland CAN B
The Free Speech Union published its Woke, Ltd. paper on Friday 11th August, exposing the efforts of an American nonprofit to export woke ideology to companies around the world, including the UK. We received a considerable amount of press, which prompted us to continue our research in the area (GB News, Telegraph, Times).
The discovery of Scotland CAN B, a partner of B Lab UK’s, was of particular concern to Tom Harris, the author of the report, who mentioned it on the Farage show on GB News Monday 14th August. Scotland CAN B describes its work as “helping to position Scotland at the vanguard of economic systems change”.
Scotland CAN B’s own website describes its mission as follows:
Scotland CAN B was launched in 2018 by the First Minister for Scotland in a unique partnership with B Lab UK (the non-profit behind the global B Corp movement) with the aim of catalysing a fundamental shift in the nation’s approach to business.
Conceived as a sister initiative to Scotland Can Do, and ahead of changing market forces where business accountability for social and environmental impact is increasingly essential; [sic] Scotland CAN B was created to explore what happens when you combine the entrepreneurial, innovative, and business [sic] for good ambitions [sic] of one country.
Scotland CAN B further describes its relationship with B Lab UK:
[The] initiative was conceived when B Lab co-founder Bart Houlahan visited Scotland in 2016. Speaking at a Scotland Can Do assembly, Bart asked “How might an entire nation learn to be, think, and behave like a B Corp?… Today, drawing on the rich heritage of B Lab’s Impact Assessment tools and community of certified B Corps as leading case studies; [sic] the Scotland CAN B initiative looks beyond B Corp certification to ask – “How might we build a nationwide culture of business as a force for good?”
Quite apart from the basic illiteracy of CAN B’s website, it’s concerning that the Scottish branch of B Lab UK draws on the B Impact Assessment tools, already discussed at length in our Woke, Ltd. paper, to export an American left-wing ideology into the Scottish corporate sector.
The latest episode of the FSU’s podcast is out now!
The latest episode of the FSU’s podcast is out now and this week the talking points include: our recent research briefing that details the chilling effect on workplace free speech of the ‘B Corps’ movement; how a police force can arrest an autistic 16 year-old girl on suspicion of a ‘hate crime’ because she compared a WPC to her “lesbian nana”; and the ‘woke privilege’ of those employees who worship at the altar of ‘intolerant progressivism’, safe in the knowledge that they remain free to express their right-on views whenever and wherever they please – without any detriment to their career.
The link to download the episode in full – and for free – is here!
Last week, hosts Tom and Ben were joined by former British Olympic Swimmer Sharron Davies MBE, to discuss cancel culture, trans athletes and unfairness in women’s sport.
The link to download that episode is here.
In this clip from the show, Sharron explains why she’s now campaigning for the Equality Act to be rewritten to make it easier to bar trans people from female sports and single-sex spaces. At present, the Equality Act states that people can be protected on the basis of their “sex”, but some have since interpreted this to mean the gender someone identifies as rather than their biological sex.
Is there a left way back from woke? A few in-person tickets still available!
There are now less than 20 in-person tickets left for our next live event, ‘Is there a left way back from woke?’, with Professor Umut Özkirimli on Wednesday 13th September in London. So if you’d like to attend in person, but haven’t yet purchased your tickets, now would be a good time to click here – all tickets include a free glass of wine on arrival!
Watching the event online is free for FSU members – the link to register for the Zoom link is here.
In his provocative new book, Cancelled: The Left Way Back from Woke, Professor Özkirimli describes how the Left has been sucked into a spiral of toxic hatred and outrage-mongering, retreating from the democratic ideals of freedom, tolerance and pluralism that it purports to represent.
Professor Özkirimli will be joined in conversation by two eminent public intellectuals. Professor Alice Sullivan has been instrumental in providing evidence that clarifies the need to preserve sex-based social categories in data-collection and policy-making, while Dr Ashley Frawley is one of the most interesting contemporary critics of identity politics.
Encroaching censorship on the Emerald Isle – Free Speech Ireland event!
With the recently published Irish Hate Crime Bill proving to be among the most controversial pieces of legislation in the country’s history, many are deeply concerned about the state of free speech and encroaching censorship on the Emerald Isle.
In response to this legislation, campaign group Free Speech Ireland has organised a conference and seminar in Dublin’s RDS on the 16th September. The event will feature a variety of expert speakers who will explain why this censorship is happening, where it is coming from, and what we can do about it. Speakers include Twitter Files journalist Michael Shellenberger, author and journalist Dr Helen Joyce, the Editor of Gript John McGirk, Irish Independent Senator Sharon Keogan and the artist and former TV presenter Kevin Sharkey.
You can book tickets by clicking here.
Sibyl Ruth fundraiser – join the fight!
It’s been good to see the case of writer, editor and FSU member Sibyl Ruth gaining traction over the last few weeks (Express, Mail, Telegraph). Sibyl, who lost her job for pointing out that a man claiming to be a woman had a five o’clock shadow, is hoping to take her former employer to the Employment Tribunal in September – and needs your support.
You can find out more about the case and pledge your support here.
During a recent appearance on GB News’s Free Speech Nation with Andrew Doyle, Sibyl revealed a little more about what happened behind the scenes at Cornerstones, her former employer, in the lead-up to her contract termination. You can watch a clip of her interview here.
Sharer Ali fundraiser – show your support!
At the risk of overwhelming you with requests for help, can we mention just one more crowdfunder? This one’s for Sharer Ali, the former Deputy Leader of the Green Party, who’s suing the Greens for getting rid of him because of his gender critical beliefs. His case is about to come to court, and he needs to raise another £5,000 to meet all his legal expenses. It’s a worthy cause, which you can read more about in the Daily Sceptic. If you want to donate to his crowdfunder, click here.
Battle of Ideas Festival 2023 – get your special FSU discount here!
The Battle of Ideas festival returns to Church House, Westminster on the 28th and 29th of October. As ever, the festival’s motto is: “Free speech allowed, free thinkers welcome.” There’s plenty to discuss, from the corporate wars on free speech to the rise of apocalyptic thinking around climate change and artificial intelligence. There will be debates on the continuing outbreaks of populism in Europe and the crisis in the arts world – plus much more across 100+ sessions.
We’ll be there all weekend with our stall and will be organising a panel on Saturday as part of the Free Speech Strand.
FSU members can get 20% off tickets by using this link.