LETTER: Freedom of speech is fundamental

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Whilst I commend the WSCT for championing freedom of speech and somewhat belatedly, as it has been going on for years, challenging the Oligarchy that personifies the current administration of Horsham District Council.

Even with the UK’s unwritten constitution, there is a legal basis for free speech in the UK; so should HDC need reminding of its statutory duty? Indeed the majority of people would recognise that in an open, democratic society, free speech is essential. Individuals, the press, the broadcast media and political adversaries must have the freedom to criticise those in power. It is fundamental to people in such a society holding their ‘leaders’ accountable

Free speech has long been recognised as a common law right in Britain, it also has a statutory basis in Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the “Convention”), which was incorporated into UK law by the Human Rights Act 1998; an Act that many in HDC Governing Party and UKIP despise.

Indeed such principles take centre stage in the Constitution of the USA. “The First Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances. It was adopted on December 15, 1791, as one of the ten amendments that constitute the Bill of Rights”. (My emboldening).

So why do HDC, whose current chairman is a lawyer, appear to take a different attitude to such fundamental rights?

I am also pleased to see that WSCT has apparently joined the long tradition led by BMW and others of introducing April Fool spoofs into its columns and captions. The caption on page 36 of the April 3rd edition of the WSCT is a real hoot as it reads: “Councillor Phillip Circus, Chairman of Horsham District Council, welcomed the Horsham University of the Third Age (U3A) to the council’s offices in North Street in Horsham on Friday March 31st for presentations on council business and democracy”.

Took me sometime to compose myself after that one; well done the Editor. Can we have more like that please? If it was not a spoof, I do hope Councillor Circus was listening to the sage advice potentially on offer!


Smithbarn, Horsham