UK Politics

No Sanction for Livingstone’s “Unnecessarily Offensive” and “Indefensible” Jibes

Mr Justice Collins judgement seems quite correct to me:

At the hearing on Thursday, Mr Justice Collins described the mayor’s comments as “unnecessarily offensive” and “indefensible”.

But he stressed that the mayor had the right to freedom of speech in a democratic society and to express his views within the law “as forcibly as he thought fit”.

“Surprising as it may perhaps appear to some, the right of freedom of speech does extend to abuse,” he said.

The judge said although the panel had been entitled to conclude the Nazi jibe brought the mayor into disrepute, he was not persuaded the office had also been brought into disrepute.

I argued back in February that:

There is perhaps some value in a quasi-judicial body which has the power to investigate, and punish, local authority members who behave in a manner which is dishonest. However, when the conduct in question is the expression of racist views, the proper response is public debate. Ultimately, if voters decide that they do not want a racist as their representative, then they can vote him out. Or, if they choose, return him to power with an increase majority.

An administrative or quasi judicial ‘solution’ is not only a mirage: it is also an affront to democracy.