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Crossing the line

Do we need to redefine the permissible boundaries of freedom of speech, wonders John Hodgson

26 May 2015

JK Rowling, a well-known Unionist, was subjected
to large-scale, offensive, even obscene, online abuse following the general election.

Katie Hopkins in her Sun column referred to migrants as 'cockroaches' and 'feral humans'. These events sparked a debate on the permissible boundaries
of freedom of expression.

Qualified right

English law explicitly includes
a right to freedom of expression (article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)). This qualified right is subject to limitations relating to public safety, disorder, and rights of others.

A democratic society must accept expression of opinions which are unpopular, even shocking: Handyside v United Kingdom (1976) 1 EHRR 737.
It must accept that public figures and matters of ...

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