Accessibility, Freedom of Information and the Faulks Reports (plural)

Last month, the government announced the membership of the panel who will undertake a ‘review of administrative law’ and published some terms of reference. The chair of the panel will be Lord Edward Faulks, who many fear has already made up his mind that the boundaries of judicial review have strayed too far into political matters: in February, he wrote an article for Conservative Home in which he suggested that the Supreme Court’s decision in Miller/Cherry [2019] UKSC 41 (concerning the controversial prorogation of parliament) was “an assertion of judicial power that cannot be justified by constitutional law or principle.”

Judicial review is of crucial importance to any democracy. It allows the judicial branch of government to check the power of the executive branch of government, to ensure that elected and appointed officials do not exceed the powers given to them by the legislative branch of government. It is a means to prevent corruption and to protect the citizen against, as the Conservative Party manifesto put it [PDF, page 48], an “overbearing state.” Continue reading “Accessibility, Freedom of Information and the Faulks Reports (plural)”

COVID19, Free Speech and the Right to Receive Information

In 2004, the writer Orhan Pamuk gave the inaugural Arthur Miller Freedom to Write lecture, at the Prague Writer’s Festival. Among his remarks, he said this:

I have personally known writers who have chosen to raise forbidden topics purely because they were forbidden. I think I am no different. Because when another writer in another house is not free, no writer is free. This, indeed, is the spirit that informs the solidarity felt by PEN, by writers all over the world.

Orhan Pamuk

I would often use the highlighted bit of that quote in English PEN’s marketing communications. I thought it would appeal to the worldliness of other writers, their solidarity and empathy with fellow wordsmiths.

But occasionally I would worry that the proper meaning of that quote was properly understood. Because taken literally, it’s obviously untrue. The fact that Ahmet Altan (to pick another Turkish novelist) is currently in prison and censored does not stop me writing my derivative science fiction or my bad poetry. Continue reading “COVID19, Free Speech and the Right to Receive Information”