Gaunty versus Ofcom

Jon Gaunt, host of the SunTalk online radio show, is not a man to shy away from controversy. The scourge of the “liberal nutters” of the Guardian and the Equlity and Human Rights Commission has turned to the courts to defend his human right to free expression.

Gaunt was censured by Ofcom after describing a guest on his previous show on TalkSport (who proposed banning smokers from adopting) as a “health Nazi”.

Supporting him are the liberal nutters of Liberty. Corrina Ferguson explains why over at Liberty Central:

Much as he once called [Liberty Director] Shami Chakrabarti a danger to this country, these verbal barbs pulled no punches and caused enough offence that members of the public were moved to complain.

It’s what happened next that Liberty takes issue with: Gaunt lost his job and the regulator upheld the complaints in full, thereby vindicating TalkSport’s decision to sack him. We say this is wrong and that free speech protections enshrined in the Human Rights Act must be held to apply.

There are of course limits on free speech and it would be nonsensical to protect absolutely one person’s right to speak freely when this would have a grave impact on the rights of others – incitement to murder being an obvious example.

But there is no right not to be offended.

Quite. Gaunt should be supported.

The new free expression debates

On the morning of Monday 12 October, Index on Censorship will be teaming up with Policy Exchange and Google to discuss free expression and the Internet. Later that day, Liberty and Index on Censorship will stage Protest! an exciting event encouraging students to exercise their right to free speech, with special guest Sir Hugh Orde, head of the Association of Chief Police Officers

Why, people might sensibly ask, is Index on Censorship engaging with one of the world’s leading technology corporations and one of Britain’s top police chiefs? The answer is because we no longer see free expression only through the traditional prism of outright state censorship of or violence against writers and journalists.

PROTEST! Talking about your right to speak out


Take action and be part of the next generation of protest!

Protest has been vital in securing many of the rights and freedoms we enjoy today and it has the power to change the course of history. It has been used to create democracies and demand fair and equal treatment.

Join Index on Censorship and Liberty for an afternoon of debate and discussion about how we can use peaceful protest today to achieve positive change. Hear from experienced campaigners, and learn more about your right to protest.

Shami Chakrabarti – Director of Liberty
John Kampfner – CEO Index on Censorship
Peter Tatchell – Human rights campaigner
Matthew Ryder – Leading barrister in police law and human rights
Eduardo Gill-Pedro – Protest legal rights advisor

Bibi Van Der Zee – Journalist and Campaigner (Chair)
Richard GeorgePlane Stupid
Juliane HeiderStop Deportation Network
Lowkey – Rapper / Poet / Political Activist
Nizam UddinUniversity of London Union President


Monday, 12 October 2000
14:00 – 18:00
London Southbank University, The Keyworth Centre

PAST EVENT: Liberty 75th Anniversary Conference

libertyThis June marks the 75th anniversary of UK human rights organisation Liberty. Index chief executive John Kampfner and Index trustee Sir Ken Macdonald are set to speak at the event which celebrates 75 years of protecting civil liberties and human rights as well as debating the challenges to rights and freedoms in modern Britain. The panelists include some of the UK’s leading thinkers and campaigners including Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti, Tony Benn, Diane Abbott MP, Iain Dale, Nick Clegg MP, Peter Tatchell, Kate Adie, Vivienne Westwood and many more.

The event takes place Satuday June 6 at Methodist Central Hall, Westminser. Tickets cost £15 or free to liberty members. Please click here to book your ticket and for more information and speakers.