Threats to Freedom Archive

The equivocations of the Royal College of General Practitioners

The Royal College of General Practitioners has failed to take responsibility for protecting academic freedom.  The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) is the professional membership body for GPs in the UK. It aims to “foster and maintain the highest possible standards in general medical practice”. It is, in its…

The University of Birmingham misstates the law on freedom of speech 

In its online guide to freedom of speech the University of Birmingham states:  Speech can and should be limited if it is thought to… cause a person… distress.  The guide aims to provide “practical advice” to staff and students at the University of Birmingham to help them “protect free speech”. The…

David Miller verdict: anti-Zionist beliefs are protected under the Equality Act

A UK employment tribunal has ruled for the first time that anti-Zionist beliefs are protected under the Equality Act.  David Miller is a sociologist and previously professor at Bristol University. His research focusses on the use of propaganda and lobbying to sustain power. Miller is an “anti-Zionist”. He defines “political…

Rachel Meade v Social Work England: Implications for UK Universities

Universities which fail to maintain institutional neutrality in their disciplinary procedures may be liable for harassment and discrimination.  On 8 January, a judgement was delivered in Rachel Meade’s employment tribunal case against Westminster City Council and Social Work England. Rachel Meade is a social worker who holds gender critical views;…

European Commission considers legislation to protect academic freedom

Alongside the UK government, the EU is also moving to legislate to protect academic freedom.  The UK’s Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Act 2023 came into force May 2023. The Act allows individuals who think that universities have failed in their duty to take reasonably practical steps to secure their…

Jo Phoenix wins tribunal against the Open University.

Professor Jo Phoenix has won her employment tribunal against the Open University. It has been found that that the Open University failed to protect her from abuse because of her gender critical beliefs, and is liable for direct discrimination, harassment, constructive dismissal, and post-employment victimisation.   Professor Phoenix is a criminologist,…

Office for Students’ proposed guidance for student unions unhelpful, CAF finds

The Office for Student’s proposed guidance for students’ unions on their duties to secure free speech contains little useful information.  Under the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Act, students’ unions have a duty to take “reasonably practicable” steps to secure freedom of speech for their members and for visiting speakers.…

The REF “People, Culture and Environment” element to be reviewed.

The REF has announced it will review the proposed 25% weighting of its new “People, Culture and Environment” element.  The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is an assessment of British Higher Education Institutions. It determines how much funding universities receive, and is overseen (ultimately) by the government’s Department for Business and…