Friday, 19 November 2010

Good on the election court

Phil Woolas has to wait until next week to learn as to whether his appeal has been successful. He feels that the previous High Court decision which deprived him of holding public office for three years was an attack on his free speech. Well I agree with Phil. The trouble is that free speech, when used responsively should not include lying, and if it does then it should be restricted. It is no defence to claim that free speech is being eroded when those with this freedom do not use it responsibly.

This is a pretty weak argument for his lawyers to use so they are also putting forward that the lies relate to his opponents political not personal conduct. That's alright then. So his lawyers are accepting that he lied but that's OK if you lie about political conduct. What sort of law is this? What kind of lawyer fights a defence on technicalities (probably all of them but that's not the point)? The point is that Phil Woolas is a liar. We will find out if the appeal court continues to hold this view shortly, but he is not defending the fact that he told lies. He just wants the freedom to tell lies if that is his wish.

Another defence is that the election court had misdirected itself in law, and this would "chill free speech at election time". If this restraint at election times means that we don't get lies told at election time then good on the election court.

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