PM’s free speech champion will ‘restore some sanity’ to universities

GB News: Harry Redknapp calls cancel culture ‘scary’

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A union that represents academics and students who are “frightened” of getting “cancelled” has said Rishi Sunak’s plan to appoint a “free speech tsar” will help “restore some sanity” to England’s universities. The Prime Minister is looking to give someone authority to prevent academics and university speakers from being censored for controversial beliefs. They will be able to investigate claims of no-platforming made through a new complaints scheme for staff, students and speakers.

Currently, the Office for Students initial advice for complainants is to “start by raising your complaint with the university or college”.

But many complainants think the existing complaints method is ineffective and as a result have sought support from groups such as the Free Speech Union.

A spokesperson from the Free Speech Union (FSU), which is representing academics who allege they were violently threatened by LGBT+ activists, told “We’re contacted every week by students and academics who need our help, who are frightened about the consequences of speaking out in today’s stifling universities.

“The problem has spread far beyond higher education to workplaces, businesses, and the NHS.

“The free speech champion can help tackle the problem at source, and restore free speech – and some sanity – to England’s universities, and help those who are still brave enough to speak their minds.”

The role of free speech “tsar” will be created as part of the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill currently being passed through Parliament.

The Bill will also set up a new complaints scheme run by the Office for Students (OfS) who will consider the complaints with the possibility to levy fines.

Arif Ahmed, a Cambridge philosophy professor, is understood to be the main contender for the “free speech tsar” role.

Last year, Mr Ahmed warned that free speech was under attack and said university “should be an environment where you can say pretty much anything you like and other people can say whatever they like as well”.

He suggested that training was also needed to reduce the desire to suppress differing views, which he claimed was “a very natural impulse”.

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