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Laws against extremism too difficult to do for UK government


9 April 2019

The British government scrapped plans to pass laws against extremism because it was too hard to define “extremism” in law.

Counter-extremism bills in both 2015 and 2016 were dumped because they were so far-reaching that they would have made much normal political and religious activity illegal, according to top lawyer Lord Anderson, as reported in the Daily Telegraph on 6 April.

Anderson, who was given the job of independently reviewing the bills, said, “There can be no one-size-fits-all legislative solution to activities as various as violent racism, campaigning against gay rights, sectarian marching, and, in the manner of (TV presenter) Jeremy Clarkson, calling someone a one-eyed Scottish idiot.”

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Top lawyer Lord Anderson says there can be no one-size-fits-all law to define extremism [Image credit: John Stearne]

He said government orders rather than independent courts would have clamped down on the so-called “extremist activity” which would have included “legitimate political and religious speech”.

Speaking to The Sunday Telegraph, Lord Anderson said, “The notion [of extremism] is far too broad to be suitable for legislation. Coercive state powers should not be applied to ‘extremism’, but only to specific types of violent, abusive and anti-social conduct that there is sufficiently strong reason to prohibit.”

Hayley Dixon, "Extremism definition fails the Clarkson test", The Sunday Telegraph, 7 April 2019, pp1-2.

 

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