The Chair should run through these points with the speaker, using discretion according to the circumstances.
The School exists for the pursuit of learning. Its fundamental purpose can be achieved only if its members, and visitors to it, can work and conduct their business peacefully in conditions which permit freedom of thought and expression within a framework of respect for the rights of other persons. In pursuance of its duties under section 43 of the Education (No.2 ) Act the School has adopted a Code of Practice on Free Speech to ensure that freedom of speech within the law is secured for students, employees, other members of the School and for all persons on School premises, including visiting speakers. Every member of and associated with the School, including visiting speakers, shall be entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, to hold opinions without interference, disability, or disadvantage, and to freedom of expression within the law, including the right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas.
The School has the right to refuse an event or to close an event once it has begun in circumstances where the bounds of lawful free speech are exceeded or thought likely to be exceeded. A breach of lawful free speech is not easy to define in principle but may occur if there is abusive behaviour or language or incitement to commit a breach of the peace or other crime; or where physical harm to persons, or damage to the School property or a breach of the peace is taking place or thought likely to take place. An event may also be closed if, in the opinion of the School authorities, unlawful acts are likely to take place, or indeed are taking place, as a result of the event in question.
Specific legislation relevant to lawful free speech includes the following, which is not exhaustive:
- The Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015. Under this Act and its associated statutory guidance on the Prevent duty, the School has a legal obligation to help prevent people being drawn into terrorism – terrorism of any sort.
- The Equality Act 2010.
- The Public Order Act 1986. The School needs to balance this and other relevant legislation against its duty under the Education (No. 2) Act 1986 to ensure free speech within the law on its premises.
Events Office, Communications Division.