Tory war on ‘cancel culture’: Speakers no-platformed by universities can seek compensation

Tory war on ‘cancel culture’: People denied a platform by universities will be able to seek compensation in the courts under government plans designed to make campuses places where ‘freedom of speech can thrive’

  • The Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill will aim to end the so-called ‘no platforming’ of speakers and academics on campuses 
  • Regulator the Office for Students will get the power to fine institutions and student unions for breaching new duties 
  • People who believe their freedom of speech has been impinged will also get the power to go to court to seek financial compensation 

The Conservatives opened a new front in their war on ‘cancel culture’ today, unveiling a new law forcing universities to protect freedom of speech.

The Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill will aim to end the so-called ‘no platforming’ of speakers and academics on campuses.

Regulator the Office for Students will get the power to fine institutions and student unions for breaching new duties designed to foster ‘a culture of open and robust intellectual debate’.

People who believe their freedom of speech has been impinged will also get the power to go to court to seek financial compensation. 

Universities have been dogged in the past few years by campaigns to block appearances from figures seen as controversial by some students and staff.

They range from far-right figures to the legendary feminist campaigner Germaine Greer, who has been targeted by the pro-trans lobby over her views on people who change gender.

The bill will ensure ‘freedom of speech can thrive for all staff, students and visiting speakers’, and ensure ‘that academic staff feel safe to question and test received wisdom and put forward new ideas and controversial or unpopular opinions, without being at risk of losing their jobs, privileges or promotion’.

Giving the showpiece address in the House of Lords today, the monarch said that the new law would ‘protect freedom of speech’.

Giving the showpiece address in the House of Lords today, the monarch said that the new law would ‘protect freedom of speech’.

Germaine Greer

Amber Rudd

Universities have been dogged in the past few years by campaigns to block appearances from figures seen as controversial by some students and staff, including Germaine Greer (left) and Amber Rudd (right)

Other figures who have been no-platformed include the former home secretary Amber Rudd. 

In early 2020 she was invited to speak at Oxford University by a student society, but the event was cancelled minutes beforehand because of protests over her links to the Windrush scandal.

She had been due to address the UNWomen Oxford UK society. But She arrived to an empty hall after Felicity Graham, president of society, was forced to cancel the event following a majority vote by its committee. 

Ms Rudd resigned as home secretary over the Windrush scandal, which saw those of Caribbean heritage who arrived between 1948 and 1971 wrongly detained, threatened with deportation or wrongly refused re-entry to the UK. 

Her barring came after Oxford historian Professor Selina Todd was blocked from appearing at a feminist festival following threats from trans-rights activists. 

At the time Education Secretary Gavin Williamson threatened intervention against institutions that fail to defend democracy. 

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Facebook allows human smugglers to operate openly on the platform, says GOP Rep

Rep. Kat Cammack accuses Facebook of ‘openly’ allowing human smuggling content

A Republican congresswoman has accused Facebook of trying to ‘silence’ conservatives while allowing human smugglers and cartels to operate ‘openly’ on the platform.

Rep. Kat Cammack, a freshman legislator from Florida, made the allegations in a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Tuesday, sharing Facebook posts that advertise illegal border crossing services.

‘Facebook’s role in the crisis at the border is urgent and must be addressed immediately,’ Cammack wrote in the letter, which was first reported by Fox News

In a statement to DailyMail.com, a Facebook spokesperson insisted: ‘We prohibit content that either offers or assists with human smuggling. We have removed the content highlighted to us that violates our policies.’ 

Posts on Facebook advertise services to cross the border into San Antonio

Another offers direct transport from Guatemala to Houston

Posts on Facebook advertise services to cross the border into San Antonio (left) and direct transport from Guatemala to Houston (right), charging thousands of dollars

CEO Mark Zuckerberg is seen above. A Facebook spokesman insisted: 'We prohibit content that either offers or assists with human smuggling.'

CEO Mark Zuckerberg is seen above. A Facebook spokesman insisted: ‘We prohibit content that either offers or assists with human smuggling.’

Cammack said that she found the Facebook posts advertising services to help migrants illegally cross the border through a simple search on her own.

One post advertises a ‘Safe crossing to the UNITED STATES’ for $6,000. ‘Through the Piedras Negras border to get to SAN ANTONIO More details via telephone,’ the ad reads in Spanish.

Another post advertises a $9,300 all-inclusive service that includes a bus pickup in Guatemala and direct transport to Houston.

‘Even more troubling was the fact that as people visited these pages, myself included, that Facebook then provided additional posts and pages of related illegal content,’ Cammack wrote in her letter. 

‘It is unacceptable for an American company to allow a criminal enterprise to use your platform to freely encourage and facilitate criminal activity,’ she wrote. 

In the letter, Cammack reiterated the complaint, frequently made by conservatives, that ‘Facebook and other social media platforms actively silence conservatives and ‘shadow ban’ individuals with views that are not supported by employees of your company.’ 

Rep. Kat Cammack, a freshman legislator from Florida, made the allegations in a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Tuesday

Rep. Kat Cammack, a freshman legislator from Florida, made the allegations in a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Tuesday

Lawmakers across the political spectrum have raised concerns about the power of Facebook and other social media companies, many calling for new regulations and some calling for breakups of Big Tech.

Last month, Cammack joined a Republican Congressional delegation to the border near McAllen, Texas amid a massive surge in illegal border crossings that has overwhelmed the Biden administration.

‘This is a humanitarian crisis,’ Cammack told Fox News after the visit. ‘I can’t even in good conscience call President Biden president, I have to call him ‘trafficker-in-chief’ because these kids are being trafficked.’

In March, U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported 172,331 encounters with migrants attempting to cross the southern border illegally, a 400 percent increase from last year and 66 percent bump from the same month in 2019.

Cammack has expressed a hard line on the border crisis, previously calling Biden 'trafficker in chief' after visiting the border in Texas last month

Cammack has expressed a hard line on the border crisis, previously calling Biden ‘trafficker in chief’ after visiting the border in Texas last month

Migrants cross the Rio Grande River at the border with Mexico in Roma, Texas on Wednesday

Migrants cross the Rio Grande River at the border with Mexico in Roma, Texas on Wednesday

March also saw the most migrant children crossing the border in history, with 18,890 unaccompanied minors being taken into cramped shelters. The previous record was around 11,000 back in May 2019. 

‘When you have 20,000 children in custody and the border patrol agents are stretched thin to the max and we’re watching cartel members taunt our border patrol agents as they’re sending these children under six years old across the river by themselves, this is a humanitarian crisis of epic proportion,’ Cammack said last month. 

Vice President Kamala Harris said on Wednesday she will travel to Guatemala and Mexico next month, after being tasked to spearhead the Biden administration’s efforts to deal with the southern border surge. 

Boris Johnson should RESIGN if he broke ministerial code over flat revamp, Scottish Tory leader says

Boris Johnson should RESIGN if it is ruled he broke ministerial code over Downing Street flat revamp, Scottish Tory leader says

  • Scottish Tory leader says ‘of course’ PM should quit if he broke ministerial code
  • Several probes are under way into the tangled financing of flat refurbishment 
  • The remarks made by Douglas Ross are likely to infuriate Downing Street
  • The PM, as head of the Government, will be final adjudicator on code breaches 

Boris Johnson must resign if he has broken the ministerial code in the lavish makeover of his Downing Street flat, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives has said.

Douglas Ross, the most senior Tory north of the border, said the Prime Minister should ‘of course’ quit if he did not abide by the standards of conduct expected of ministers.

Several probes are under way into the tangled financing of the costly refurbishment – including an investigation by Mr Johnson’s new adviser on ministerial interests, Lord Geidt.

The PM is pictured together with Douglas Ross on a visit to Elgin, Scotland in the 2019 election campaign

But the PM, as head of the Government, will be the final adjudicator on any breaches of the ministerial code.

Mr Ross was asked on BBC1’s The Andrew Marr Show if Mr Johnson should quit if found to be in breach of the code.

He replied: ‘Of course, I think people expect the highest standards of those in the highest office of the land, that’s why I think people are looking at the investigations that are currently ongoing and waiting for the answers.’

Mr Ross is the most senior Tory to question the funding arrangements, putting him at odds with No 10.

His comments are likely to infuriate Downing Street, which has sought to play down the row. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab yesterday dismissed claims that a Tory donor was asked to pay for a nanny for Mr Johnson’s one-year-old son Wilfred as ‘tittle-tattle’.

Douglas Ross, the most senior Tory north of the border, said the Prime Minister should ‘of course’ quit if he did not abide by the standards of conduct expected of ministers

Douglas Ross, the most senior Tory north of the border, said the Prime Minister should ‘of course’ quit if he did not abide by the standards of conduct expected of ministers

The Sunday Times reported that senior Conservatives said donors have been approached about funding other aspects of the PM and Carrie Symonds’ lifestyle. 

One donor is alleged to have said: ‘I don’t mind paying for leaflets but I resent being asked to pay to literally wipe the Prime Minister’s baby’s bottom.’

Mr Raab said he had ‘no idea’ if the claim was correct, adding: ‘You don’t have conversations like that with the PM.’

A No 10 spokesman said the Prime Minister ‘has covered the cost of all childcare’, but did not say whether he paid for the original bill himself.

The Foreign Secretary declined to deny a claim that a second invoice for the renovations may have been settled with the supplier by a Tory donor. 

Mr Raab also sidestepped questions over whether Mr Johnson should resign if he is found to have broken the law by the Electoral Commission.

The Electoral Commission last week launched an investigation into whether any donations or loans were properly declared. It is also the subject of an internal review by the Cabinet Secretary Simon Case, and there have been calls for the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner Kathryn Stone to investigate.

Mr Johnson last week said he has now paid the £58,000 cost overrun and described the row as a ‘farrago of nonsense’.

Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy said yesterday: ‘We need to know who the Prime Minister is beholden to, we need to know what he has promised in return.’

Mr Johnson’s chaotic decision-making has led No 10 insiders to nickname him ‘Trolley’, according to the BBC.

One source said: ‘You think you are pushing it along a path towards your goal then suddenly it veers off disastrously.’

Downing Street has declined to comment on the name.

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