'FREEDOM OF SPEECH'
Daily Telegraph – 4 December 2007
Your leading article (Nov. 27) associated me, by implication, with those who want to censor the likes of David Irving and the leader of the British National Party, simply because I deplore their being offered the privilege of a platform by prestige organisations such as the Oxford Union.
Yet, my resignation letter to the Union explicitly stated that: "No-one denies that even the most unpleasant people must be allowed to say what they like within the limits imposed by law. No-one denies that a private debating society is at liberty to invite anyone it selects, similarly within the law."
[Despite this truism, echoed in your leading article, people have no more basis for claiming denial of freedom of speech if they are not offered a platform at the Union, than if they were not offered a column to expound their views by prestige papers like the Daily Telegraph. It follows that] those of us who oppose the issuing of such invitations to charlatans or extremists are not infringing their rights and should not be denigrated as enemies of free speech.
(Dr) JULIAN LEWIS MP
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA
[NOTE: The words in square brackets were not included in the published version.]