Freedom of Speech: Code of Practice

FREEDOM OF SPEECH: CODE OF PRACTICE

Introduction

This Code of Practice has been produced in accordance with statutory duties in the requirement of Section 43 of the Education (No. 2) Act 1986 for institutions to have a Code of Practice to protect freedom of lawful speech and expression and academic freedom. This Code of Practice also reflects the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 that requires, as part of the Prevent Duty, Alternative Providers to have policies and procedures in place for the management of events on premises belonging to the institutions or events hosted on other premises.

Section 43(1) of the Education (No 2) Act 1986 requires that ‘every individual and body of persons concerned in the government of any establishment to which this section applies shall take such steps as are reasonably practicable to ensure that freedom of speech within the law is secured for members, students and employees of the establishment and for visiting speakers. This code of practice also complies with section 4.3 of the HE Code of Governance which states that the governing body must understand and respect the principle of academic freedom, the ability within the law to question and test received wisdom and to put forward new ideas and controversial or unpopular opinions, without placing themselves in jeopardy of losing their jobs or privileges, and its responsibility to maintain and protect it as enshrined in freedom of speech legislation.

London School of Management Education (LSME) is committed to safeguarding freedom of speech and maintaining academic freedom of enquiry in its teaching, research conferences and associated activities. LSME values the rights, responsibilities and dignity of all individuals, accommodating their wide range of views even where they are controversial, unpopular and provocative. This includes ensuring free and open discussion can take place in an atmosphere of tolerance, and compliance with LSME policies and procedures and statutory duties.

The College is also committed to discharging its positive duty under the Equality Act 2010 to promote good relations within the institution.

LSME also has regard for the Human Rights Act 1998 when making decisions on matters pertaining to Freedom of Speech, including in relation to external speakers.

This Code of Practice should be read in conjunction with the External Speaker Approval Procedure.

Definitions

This Code of Practice shall apply to:

  • The members of the institution
  • The student representatives
  • External speakers and attendees at events to be held on College premises in accordance with this Code and the External Speaker Procedure.


External speakers
are defined as persons who are not members of the College, who are invited to speak on our premises (or on-premises hosted by the College) but not as part of the normal academic curriculum (teaching, research and its administration) or at other events, such as convocations and conferences.

Events are defined as any organised meeting, gathering or similar activities, which take place on LSME premises or off-site but are organised under the control of the institution, including all events held in the normal course of the LSME’s teaching, learning or its administration.

The premises are defined as any building, land or space owned or occupied by the College.

Principles of Freedom of Speech

This Code enables LSME to take such steps as are reasonably practicable to ensure that the rights to freedom of speech within the law are secured for members, external speakers and visitors to the institution, even if such speech is controversial, contentious or provocative. This principle extends to conduct online and on social media.

The College, so far as is reasonably practicable and within the law, will not deny the use of premises to any individual or organisation on any grounds connected with:

  1. The beliefs or views of that individual or organisation; or
  2. The policy or objectives of that individual or organisation.

The College will not permit any form of events on its premises, or to be hosted by the College on other premises, that is likely to:

  • Result in a breach of criminal law or incite attendees to commit a criminal offence;
  • Result in a civil disorder or breach of peace;
  • Result in an increased risk to health and safety;
  • Result in a security risk;
  • Result in a detrimental effect on the College’s reputation.

LSME would expect all speakers and attendees, including those that may be involved in protest activities, to be sensitive to the diversity of its community and to show respect to all sections of that community. LSME recognises the right to peaceful demonstration and reserves the right to monitor, regulate, impose conditions or restrictions upon any event on its premises and if necessary, close an event and request all persons to leave its premises as its members have the right to work and study unhindered by hostility, offensive conduct or intimidation. It should be noted that an event which is likely to give rise to an environment in which people will experience or could reasonably fear harassment, intimidation, verbal abuse or violence particularly because of their ethnicity, race, nationality, religion or belief, sexual orientation, gender, disability or age is likely to be unlawful.

LSME would expect the students’ representative to protect freedom of speech and its associated rights whilst complying with its statutory duties. The students’ Representatives must comply with the External Speaker Procedure where any such event is proposed to take place on premises owned by LSME or to be hosted with an association with the College.

The provisions of this Code apply to events and to protect freedom of speech and its associated rights during social, private and recreational activities. Therefore, all members of the College MUST observe the principles at all times whilst on the premises or whilst conducting themselves under the name of the College.

Procedures

Freedom of Speech is not absolute and without restriction and as such, LSME must ensure that there is a proportionate and reasonable limitation of expression to maintain public order and safety and comply with statutory duties as set out in Article 10.2 of the Human Rights laws. The exercise of these freedoms, since it has duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary for a democratic society. These formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties are necessary for the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety and the prevention of disorder or crime, the protection of health, morals and the reputation or rights of others and for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.

Formal approval for events must be sought before the event takes place using the Code of Practice for Approval and Conduct of Events. A detailed database is maintained on external speakers to show those approved and those rejected.

Compliance with this Code

Members of the College are expected to promote and encourage compliance with the principles and spirit of this Code. Members of the College who fail to ensure that the provisions of this Code of Practice are adhered to may be liable to disciplinary action in accordance with College misconduct policies and procedures, in addition to any possible prosecution for breach of the law.

Where a breach of this Code takes place at an event, LSME may take steps to assist the Police, Crown Prosecution Service or any other relevant external body, to secure identification of the persons committing offences with a view to appropriate action being taken against them.

The College will review formally the operation of the Code of Practice at least every year, led by the Designated Officer and the Board of Directors including the Regional Prevent Higher Education & Further Education Coordinator.

The Designated Officer shall be responsible for ensuring that this Code of Practice and the External Speaker Procedure remains fits for purpose at least annually.

The College Board of Directors shall have final responsibility for approval of any changes to the Code of Practice.

 

Next Review Date: October 2021

 
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