Index Chair Trevor Phillips honoured with knighthood

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”106060″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes”][vc_column_text]We are pleased to receive the news that Trevor Phillips, co-founder of Webber Phillips and Chair of Index on Censorship, was today honoured with a knighthood in the New Year Honours 2022 for his work on understanding Covid-19.

Trevor said:

“It is a privilege to have made a contribution to the understanding of Covid and to have the value of data science in tackling inequality recognised in this way. I am grateful to my friends and colleagues at Webber Phillips, particularly my co-founder Richard Webber; and to Raj Tulsiani and the team at Green Park for their support in this work.

The past two years should have taught us all that the diversity of our people is both a benefit and a responsibility. We should respect difference but also remember that we are at our best when we face our challenges as a single nation.”

For any enquiries about this, please contact Rory Scarfe at the Blair Partnership on [email protected][/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Index on Censorship announces Ruth Smeeth as new chief executive 

Index on Censorship has today (Monday 15th June) announced the appointment of Ruth Smeeth as the organisation’s new chief executive. 

Ruth Smeeth was the MP for Stoke-on-Trent-North from 2015 to 2019, and prior to that was deputy director at HOPE not hate.

Ruth Smeeth, chief executive, Index on Censorship, said:

“I’m excited to be joining Index on Censorship at a time when the organisation’s work to protect free speech is more important than ever.  

“As governments and citizens seek to navigate increasingly complex and intimidating global issues – from Covid-19 to systemic racism – we’ve seen just how easily our fundamental right to freedom of expression can be threatened.

“From the arrests of journalists covering Black Lives Matter protests in America to the silencing of medics in China who sought to inform the world about the effects of Covid-19, it’s clear that the fight to enshrine and protect the right to free speech across the world has not yet been won.  

“And this is not just an issue to be tackled abroad. Here in the UK, we’ve seen increasing threats to journalistic freedom as individuals are hounded and attacked simply for doing their jobs.

“Too often, free speech is portrayed as a fringe or foreign issue. Nothing could be further from the truth. Freedom of expression should be a mainstream concern, and it is time for a proper debate and discussion about its importance – and its limitations – in a rapidly changing world.

“Index on Censorship is uniquely placed to lead this discussion, alongside the campaign to protect freedom of expression here in the UK and abroad. I look forward to working with stakeholders and supporters to do just that”.

Trevor Phillips, chair, Index on Censorship, said:

“Ruth brings a wealth of relevant knowledge, experience and above all, courage to the organisation at a pivotal moment for Index on Censorship. Her independence of mind and non-partisan approach to freedom of expression is exactly what is needed at a time when the voices of people from all backgrounds need to be heard – not least those from minorities. 

“Ruth’s experience, both as an MP and as a campaigner against fascism and racism, will enable her to champion our cause as we seek to tackle ever more frequent challenges to freedom of expression both across the globe and in every medium”.

Kate Maltby, deputy chair, Index on Censorship, said:

“I could not be more delighted to welcome Ruth as our new chief executive at Index on Censorship. Ruth has a proven record as a campaigner, unwavering in her principles and exceptional in her ability to build cross-partisan coalitions that make substantive change.

“Index on Censorship was founded in 1972, and in its first decades provided lifelines to dissidents as they endured harassment in Soviet regimes. As Index approaches its fiftieth birthday, it can sometimes seem that both progressive and conservative forces forget the lessons of those years. 

“With Ruth at the helm, I am confident that Index on Censorship will play a central role in rebuilding an open, civic and intellectually diverse public sphere. Freedom of expression needs tough defenders, and in Ruth we have one.”

Media enquiries: Luke Holland, 07447 008098, [email protected].

Talking censorship at the University of Essex

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”106499″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes”][vc_column_text]“I worry that today even more effective in censorship than self-censorship is the capacity to make so much noise that the person who says ‘I’ve had a slightly different thought about the way we might look at this scientific issue or this moral question’, never gets heard,” said Trevor Phillips on the subject of “censorship by shitstorm”.

The current chair of Index on Censorship made the comment during a panel with Shohini Chaudhuri, a professor at the University of Essex, where the panel was held as part of Unspeakable, a series of events focusing on censorship as part of the Essex Book Festival.

“Stalin was incredibly good at this, there were lots of people he didn’t lock up, not many, but enough,” continued Phillips. “What he did do was make sure they were never heard. The Soviet academy would create a lie and the noise of what was orthodoxy would almost always drown out the innovator, the minority, the small voice that said let’s do something new.”

“It’s very much the case that voices can get buried, very much like news stories can get buried, and the government’s very good at this, massaging bad news by burying it under other news,” said Chaudhuri. “It’s hard to direct attention to a non-orthodox view when an orthodoxy becomes established.”

Chaudhuri went on to talk about censorship in filmmaking and how creativity can flourish under constraints. She said: “Censorship is traditionally seen as something that comes at the end of a process in the form of authorities banning the work once it’s already been produced.

“The idea of constraint is to see that those conditions are already there, that films and other artwork are produced under constraints and those constraints actually shape the work from the very beginning.”

As part of the day of debate, Rachael Jolley, editor of Index on Censorship magazine, chaired a discussion on theatre censorship with actors from The Globe.

Panellists Matthew Romain and Phoebe Fildes were part of a cast ensemble who performed Shakespeare’s iconic play Hamlet in countries around the world.

“Shakespeare is definitely being used in different ways to perform plays about ideas in a way that a modern playwright couldn’t get away with writing,” said Jolley, who also led a theatre workshop with drama students at University of Essex.

While performing Hamlet, the actors rarely faced restrictions owing to how respected Shakespeare is around the world. However, there were occasions when political and cultural aspects led to unprecedented restrictions and constraints.

“Certain countries wanted to get the script in advance, and would want to see a few scenes in advance. When we performed in Vietnam, for example, before the performance, we had to perform a selection of scenes before a panel who sat there and judged whether or not it was politically appropriate.”

“I personally felt so deeply angry and outraged at just the very notion of there be a group of people judging what they deemed appropriate,” added Fildes. “To me it felt so inhibiting and as an artist to be censored in that way was shocking.”

Dean Atta, a poet who was listed as one of the 100 most influential LGBT people in the UK in 2012, performed some of his work, which often deals with questions of identity and social justice.

“There’s a great democracy to the idea of putting work online,” said Atta. “I feel like poets can use the platforms that exist there for them freely to self-publish their work, whether it’s online or printing their own books through self-publishing means.

“That can reach people and it does, so I feel like don’t wait for gatekeepers or for anyone to give you permission to write what you want to write about, if you feel passionately and you need to share that then do that.”[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”106500″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes”][vc_basic_grid post_type=”post” max_items=”4″ element_width=”6″ grid_id=”vc_gid:1556616356392-9042b591-8d9e-5″ taxonomies=”8890″][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Writer and broadcaster Trevor Phillips named new chair of Index on Censorship board

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”100734″ img_size=”full”][vc_column_text]Index on Censorship has named writer and broadcaster Trevor Phillips as its new chair. Phillips succeeds journalist David Aaronovitch whose five-year term ends in September.

Phillips is a writer and television producer. He currently works between the US and the UK, serving as chairman of New York-based think-tank, the Center for Talent Innovation and as president of the council of the John Lewis Partnership. A former chair of the UK’s Equality and Human Rights Commission, Phillips is currently writing a prequel to his successful book Windrush.

“Trevor believes passionately in argument, debate and free expression. He’s not afraid of expressing a view and he’s not afraid of others expressing theirs. He’s a great fit for Index,” said current chair David Aaronovitch.

Previous chairs of Index include the broadcasters Anna Ford and Jonathan Dimbleby.

In the past five years, Aaronovitch has played an active role in debates on the value of free expression, especially in the wake of events such as Charlie Hebdo, and overseen the recruitment of a new chief executive, former Reuters London Bureau Chief Jodie Ginsberg. During his tenure, the organisation has transformed its annual Freedom of Expression Awards into a year-long fellowship programme, and introduced new flagship projects, including training for UK arts organisations on the law and free speech and a European media freedom monitoring project.

“David brought calm humour and good sense to the board and organisation at a time filled with difficult attacks on both the concept of free expression and on those who dare to exercise their precious rights,” board member David Schlesinger said.

Phillips will take over as chair in September as the organisation prepares to increase its work both in the United States and in coverage of issues of censorship online.

“At a time when the world is beset by conflict, and in many cases repression, the case for diversity of voices globally could not be plainer,” said Phillips. “The advent of new technologies has made it more possible for those voices to be heard; but both governments and non-state actors have redoubled their efforts to silence their opponents.”

He added: “For many, the last freedom that will be left is the ability to tell the truth as they see it. Courageous journalists, writers and campaigners are the front line troops in the battle to protect our understanding and insight of what is taking place; and all too many are paying the price in the loss of their own freedoms, and of their own lives. Those of us who enjoy freedom can do more than wring our hands – we can take practical steps to support those who face the threat of being silenced.”

“Index is the premier organisation backing the voices standing up for free expression, and I feel privileged to be asked to succeed my friend David Aaronovitch as chair, and to support the work of Index’s outstanding team.”

For more information, please contact [email protected][/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]About Trevor Phillips

Born in London in 1953, Trevor Phillips was educated in London and in Georgetown, Guyana, and studied chemistry at Imperial College London. Between 1978 and 1980, he was president of The National Union of Students.

He joined London Weekend Television as a researcher, rising to become Head of Current Affairs, before leaving to found Pepper Productions. He has been a Vice-President of the Royal Television Society since 2000. His most recent films include Things We Won’t Say About Race That Are True and Has Political Correctness Gone Mad?.

Trevor retains an active interest in the arts and music and is a board member of the Barbican Arts Centre and of Headlong Theatre. His other voluntary activities include serving as a board member of the Social Mobility Foundation, and of the Employers Network for Equality and Inclusion. He chairs the WEA, a charity providing over 150,000 hours of adult education each year.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]About Index

Index on Censorship is a UK-based nonprofit that campaigns against censorship and promotes free expression worldwide. Founded in 1972, Index has published some of the world’s leading writers and artists in its award-winning quarterly magazine, including Nadine Gordimer, Mario Vargas Llosa, Samuel Beckett and Kurt Vonnegut. Index promotes debate, monitors threats to free speech and supports individuals through its annual awards and fellowship program.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_basic_grid post_type=”post” max_items=”12″ style=”load-more” items_per_page=”4″ element_width=”6″ grid_id=”vc_gid:1528726171148-fc3ce605-f7a7-5″][/vc_column][/vc_row]