Nick Buckley MBE, who was ousted as chief executive of his own charity last month following some mild criticisms of the Black Lives Matter manifesto, is back in charge thanks to the Free Speech Union. As of today, the trustees who fired him have all resigned, new trustees have been appointed and Nick has been re-appointed as CEO of Mancunian Way, the award-winning charity he founded in 2011. Nick was sacked after an article he posted on Linked-In attracted controversy, including a Change.org petition demanding his head. In spite of the fact that the petition only attracted 465 signatures – and Nick himself founded Mancunian Way – the trustees terminated the charity’s service level agreement within a week of the petition being launched.
Luckily, Nick is a member of the Free Speech Union. It got behind a counter-petition, which has attracted over 17,500 signatures, and found Nick a top flight solicitor in the form of Keystone Law’s Geoffrey Davies, an expert on charity law. After Geoffrey discovered some irregularities in the process the trustees had followed, and pointed these out to them, they agreed to resign. They have now been replaced by three new trustees, appointed by Nick. And Nick is now back at the helm.
Toby Young, General Secretary of the FSU, tells Guido:
“I’m delighted Nick has been reappointed to the charity that he founded and which has done so much to help disadvantaged young people in Manchester. No one should lose their livelihood at the behest of a left-wing outrage mob. Nick’s sacking was an example of cancel culture at its worst and I’m pleased that the FSU and Geoffrey Davies have been able to get him his job back.”
And they would have got away with if it wasn’t for that pesky Free Speech Union. You can support the Free Speech Union below:
As Nick Buckley says: “The FSU is a much needed organisation and without it I would have not stood a chance of righting an obvious wrong.” Give generously…
Jess Phillips wants the above tweeted parody headline banned. The outspoken Labour MP tweeted this morning
“Yesterday I was alerted to a completely fake headline that was being put on about me, that puts me my family and staff at risk of violence. It is completely fake. It had been shared 280 times by the time I saw it and reported it to @TwitterSupport reaching a possible audience of millions. I have no recourse to take further action as this was an anonymous account. It is designed only to incite hatred and I find that this often happens when I speak up against the powerful. People share in good faith without realising the sinister motives/organise efforts that struck the initial match. Had it been in any publication I could act but as it is I am left just to deal with the fallout and aggression. This has got to change.”
Guido’s not sure how it puts her and her staff at “risk of violence”, or convinced that it was designed to incite hatred, nor what it has to do with her speaking up against the powerful. Guido likes Jess Phillips, she speaks her mind and she doesn’t give a damn. Neither she nor her staff should be abused or threatened with violence. Jess certainly doesn’t deserve all the genuine threats and obscene abuse she gets. That all goes without saying.
Guido might be wrong about the motives of the anonymous tweeter who created and tweeted the fake headline, could it possibly have been to mock her and Labour’s position on Shamima Begum returning to the UK? Isn’t it satirical? If it was a gag on a comedy show would it have been inciting hate? If it appeared in the pages of Private Eye would she have any recourse in law? No, and nor should she.
Mocking politicians’ pretensions is an important part of a free democracy. Most of the fake Guardian headlines are dreadfully unfunny, cliched and boring. This one actually made Guido smile.
Hugo Rifkind had a crack at Toby Young in his Times column on Monday, rubbishing him and the Free Speech Union. Unfortunately for Hugo, it has blown up in his face. In the column, Hugo wrote:
Toby Young founded “the Free Speech Union” out of a professed fear that free online discourse was becoming impossible due to censorious mobs and the cowardly organisations that care more about their own reputations. Within a day, he’d grown hopelessly tangled in his own contradictions, after being asked whether the far-right activist who calls himself Tommy Robinson would be welcome in his club. Only if he was prepared to “sign a statement of values not to be racist, sexist or prejudiced against Muslims,” said Young. Even the club with “Free Speech” in its name has caveats.
Rather than free speech per se, Young was agitating for something along the lines of “the freedom to speak without facing an onslaught of other people calling you scum”.
Hard-hitting stuff, but there’s one small difficulty. Toby never said the things attributed to him in quotation marks. Why in particular would he have mentioned Muslims? Hugo just made that up or as he put it to Guido “put quote marks around what should have been a paraphrase and garbled it. Easy mistake, but still unforgivably sloppy of me. It’s been changed, I believe there’s a correction tomorrow, and I’ve written to say sorry, too. Any and all ridicule of me rightly deserved.”
Toby tells Guido:
“Hugo picked an odd day to write a column saying the free speech crisis is a figment of my imagination, given that Reddit has just announced it will be deleting 2,000 subreddits. He’s perfectly entitled to attack me of course, and does so frequently, but making up silly quotes and attributing them to me is a step too far. I expected higher ethical standards from someone who’s won so many journalism awards.”
Three years ago, Rifkind wrote a 4000-word piece for The Times about what he called “the vitally important but hideously complex issue of fake news”. If Toby hadn’t complained, this bit of fabricated news would have stood uncorrected…
Stu Peters, the Manx Radio presenter who was suspended for challenging the concept of “white privilege” in a heated discussion during a late-night phone-in, has been exonerated. The Isle of Man’s Communications Commission – its equivalent of Ofcom – has completed its investigation and concluded that Stu did not breach the Programme Code.
In a “decision notice” published this evening, the regulator said: “Whilst issues surrounding race can be an emotive matter, the debate in question was conducted in a fair and measured way, and for the most part, in a calm and open manner.”
This is a significant victory for the Free Speech Union, which went in to bat for Stu, a member of the new organisation. On June 7 it wrote to the Communications Commission, demanding it exonerate the presenter, and hinting that it would challenge the decision in the courts if it didn’t. The Isle of Man is bound by Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which means the Commission has a legal duty to uphold the right to freedom of expression.
Toby Young, General Secretary of the Free Speech Union, says:
“The suspension of Stu Peters by Manx Radio and the investigation of him by the broadcasting regulator just because he challenged the concept of ‘white privilege’ is a clear breach of his right to free speech. The attempt to publicly shame people who don’t subscribe to the latest woke orthodoxies and rob them of their livelihoods is reminiscent of the struggle sessions during China’s Cultural Revolution. We would do well to remember that our grandparents fought and died to protect the right to challenge ideological dogma without being punished by the authorities. I don’t believe that this cruel humiliation of Stu Peters is supported by Manx Radio listeners or the people of the Isle of Man. He deserves an apology and immediate reinstatement.”
Manx Radio, which referred the matter to the regulator when it suspended the presenter, may have been hoping for a different outcome – as of tonight, it has not reinstated Stu, with Managing Director Chris Sully instead saying station bosses “need time to work through the entire report to see what we can learn”.
If it doesn’t give him his old job back, it will be hearing from the Free Speech Union which has set up a litigation fund so it can stand up for free speech in the courts. You can contribute to that fund above and sign a petition demanding Stu’s reinstatement by Manx Radio here.
What is the current state of free speech in the UK?
Author and journalist Toby Young recently launched the Free Speech Union. In this week’s edition of the IEA’s In Conversation, Toby discusses the threats to free speech across the western world with IEA Director General, Mark Littlewood.
Why did Toby set up the union? How will it support and defend its members? What does he aim to achieve? And why is free speech under such threat?
Watch it on YouTube.
The police visited Harry Miller last January after a complaint about his tweets. Whilst Miller has not committed a crime, he was told his free expression would be recorded by the authorities as a “non crime hate incident.” Now a landmark judgement has ruled the police’s actions disproportionate…
In the seismic landmark ruling, the Mr Justice Julian Knowles quotes Mill’s On Liberty and Orwell’s Animal Farm. He concludes that:
“The effect of the police turning up at [the Claimant’s] place of work because of his political opinions must not be underestimated. To do so would be to undervalue a cardinal democratic freedom. In this country we have never had a Cheka, a Gestapo or a Stasi. We have never lived in an Orwellian society.”
Responding to the ruling outside court today, Miller said “This is a watershed moment for liberty – the police were wrong to visit my workplace, wrong to ‘check my thinking’.” Is the tide finally turning against the Woke Police..?