Policies to ban certain speakers from universities – known as ‘no platforming’ – could be illegal, according to legal advice received by the National Union of Students.
Christopher McCall QC, who wrote 37 pages of legal opinion for the NUS, warned that such policies breach section 43 of the Education Act 1986. This law obliges universities and student unions, among other groups, to “ensure that freedom of speech within the law is secured for members, students and employees of the establishment and for visiting speakers”.
Members of ‘proscribed groups’, such as terrorists, are the exemption to the rule – but to be a member of a government-proscribed terrorist group is against the law anyway.
In a statement to the Times, who broke the story, the National Union of Students said they saw “no reason” to amend or scrap their no platforming policy.
A spokesperson for the University of Lincoln Students’ Union also said they wouldn’t be changing their no platform policy. They clarified: “There has been no change to the legal standing regarding No Platform; moreover, this is a matter which was passed by Student Council and, as such, unless they request that we review the situation, no action regarding No Platform will be taken on our part.
“The information you have referenced is a legal argument which has not been proven; there are other legal arguments that state the opposite.”