Intimidation in public life: abusive behaviour undermines free speech

Published: 13 Dec 2017

Welcoming the publication of Lord Bew’s report into abuse of MPs (on GOV.UK), Alastair Pringle, Executive Director at the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said:

"Robust debate is essential in any democracy, but that should never spill over into abusive and vile comments, or threats. No-one, including MPs from all sides of the political spectrum, should ever face intimidation and be made to feel unsafe. We need more people from diverse backgrounds participating in public life and there’s a real danger they will be put off because of a small minority of hateful people. This will only damage our democracy.

"Freedom of speech is an important human right for everyone, and it must be protected. This type of abusive behaviour undermines freedom of speech by deterring people from putting themselves forward and expressing their views. Our new guidance will make clear the distinction between freedom of expression and hate speech to help people understand where the line is drawn."

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