Raab: Bill of Rights would give free speech a legal trump card

Mr Raab told the Daily Mail he feared ‘free speech and democratic debate’ were being ‘whittled away’ by ‘wokery and political correctness’.

26 March 2022

Justice Secretary Dominic Raab has said proposals to replace Labour’s Human Rights Act with a British Bill of Rights would ensure the principle of free speech became a legal “trump card”.

The deputy Prime Minister said the proposals, which are currently out for consultation, would better protect media freedom and put free speech on a “different status in the pecking order of rights”.

Mr Raab told the Daily Mail he feared “free speech and democratic debate” were being “whittled away” by “wokery and political correctness”.

He said: “The thrust is going to be making sure that when we balance rights, whether it’s the right to free speech and the right to privacy or other rights, we make sure that the greatest overriding importance and weight is attached to free speech.

“Effectively, free speech will be given what will amount to ‘trump card’ status in a whole range of areas.”

Despite the changes, Mr Raab said checks would remain to prevent the incitement of violence or promotion of terrorism.

“We will still be clamping down on those who try and use either media or free speech to incite violence, to radicalise terrorists, or to threaten children. All of those safeguards will be in place,” he said.

“But we’ve got to be able to strengthen free speech, the liberty that guards all of our other freedoms, and stop it being whittled away surreptitiously, sometimes without us really being conscious of it.

“So it will have a different status in the pecking order of rights and I think that will go a long way to protecting this country’s freedom of speech and our history, which has always very strongly protected freedom of speech.”

Mr Raab also told the paper the Bill of Rights would make deportation mandatory for all foreign criminals jailed for at least a year.

Meanwhile, the Telegraph reports that, as part of a wider reform of parole proceedings, Mr Raab is set to take back powers to override the Parole Board when it comes to the release of dangerous criminals from jail.

It follows public outcry at the decision to release double child killer and rapist Colin Pitchfork from jail.

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