Former British Spy Chief Says Security Policies Jeopardize Free Speech

The former head of one of Britain’s two main security services has admitted that some of her nation’s security polices are jeopardizing free speech in Britain.

Baroness Eliza Manningham-Buller, former head of Britain’s spy agency MI5 has come out to say that she does not support new anti-terror measures which will force universities to restrict the speech and actions of radical Muslims on campus.

Lady Manningham-Buller, director general of the Security Service until her retirement eight years ago, said the government’s proposals could “jeopardise” the Government’s anti-terror programme, known as Prevent.

The former spy chief said: “This is potentially in conflict with the university’s existing obligations to protect free speech, something we are all concerned about.

“My instincts are very often in support of the Government on these sort of subjects, knowing that countering terrorism is not straightforward.

“However, the doubts that I expressed … about putting Prevent, whatever its importance, on a statutory footing, in particular with regard to universities, have not been assuaged by anything that I have heard.”

Under Mrs May’s plans universities will have a statutory duty to prevent extremism taking place on their property.

It is a fine line between security and free speech, for sure, one that western nations need to come to grips with to stay in keeping with having a free and open society.

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  • Commander_Chico

    Anybody ever watch MI5 on PBS (it’s Spooks in the UK). It’s a pretty good show.

    They don’t have much free speech in the UK anyways. Snowden just released documents showing how the Canadian NSA was monitoring people’s downloads from Rapidshare. A lot of porn, I’m sure.

    • Paul Hooson

      Strangely, new BluRay and DVD discs appear to have their copyright rights enforced by the Office Of Homeland Security here for the last few years. This seems like an unusual duty for some office that is supposed to prevent terrorism in this country. – My opinion is that most businesses such as the NFL should protect their own copyrights and licensed merchandise at their own expense.

      Rapidshare is strange. Some people post original works on services like this, while others use services like this to promote copyright violations.

      • jim_m

        Customs enforces copyright protection on materials that violate the law. Customs is part of the DHS.

      • Commander_Chico

        Heimatversicherung is all about being the thug for the oligarchy.

    • MartinLandauCalrissian

      I saw one season (perhaps like season 2 or some such) and liked it. But haven’t seen any of the others.

  • Paul Hooson

    The UK has long had a far more dismal record on free speech issues than the U.S. – Not only political speech, but adult entertainment has operated under some very difficult standards. It’s the only Western nation where people can be arrested in their own home for possession of pornography that may have stronger adult S&M oriented themes as one example of absurdist restrictions on civil liberties or free expression. Through WIZBANG POP, I’ve met some people who run businesses in the UK who struggle with difficult British restrictions on free expression.

    • Brett Buck

      This is exacerbated by the absurd libel and slander laws. Truth is not an adequate defense. if a statement damages someone else, they can successfully sue, even if it is documented truth.

      • Paul Hooson

        I once had a business threaten to sue me for running a current price comparison chart on record albums when I was in the record business. All of the prices were accurate and truthful. The business felt it was harmful to their business that they were higher priced than some other businesses such as mine that sold records more cheaply.


        England does, however, allow a lot of leeway for innuendo and libelous content in their newspapers, especially the Sun and Daily Mail.