Dominic Grieve: Thumbs up for free speech
Dominic Grieve: thumbs up for free speech
04 Oct 10

It was good to see Dominic Grieve, the attorney general, championing free speech on the first day of the Conservative party conference yesterday in Birmingham.

First, he spoke alongside Kenneth Clarke, secretary of state for justice, at a Liberty fringe event and when asked how he’d deal with rabble-rousing jihadists, he answered that he wasn’t a fan of hate speech laws. He’d much rather see hatemongers publicly dismissed or challenged rather than pursued through the courts.

He added that he felt that free speech had been eroded and it looks very likely that some of the Labour government’s misguided terrorism legislation (including glorification) will be repealed. The attorney general made another appearance later on in the day at the libel reform campaign fringe event with Index on Censorship, Sense about Science and English PEN in the Castle Fine Art gallery, flanked on each side by Bob Dylan’s perplexing pseudo Van Gogh paintings. Although he managed to upset Simon Singh by referring to the blogosphere as “froth”, his support for the campaign, along with that of John Whittingdale MP, chair of the Culture, Media and Sport select committee, went down well with campaigners last night.

By Jo Glanville

Jo Glanville is editor of Looking for an enemy: eight essays on antisemitism (Short Books) and Qissat: short stories by Palestinian women (Telegram/Saqi Books). She is a former editor of Index on Censorship.