LSE law student files motion to ban student society set up to stop university banning things

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By Katie King on

Final year LLB-er thinks free speech group is “self-important and ill-informed”


A final year law student has put in a motion to have his university’s free speech society banned, because he thinks it’d be “hilarious”.

LSE student Maurice Banerjee Palmer unveiled his master plan in student newspaper The Beaver, where he described the student-led free speech society — termed the LSE Speakeasy — as “self-important and ill-informed”.

The society was recently set up by fellow student Charlie Parker — a former intern at online publication Spiked — in response to research penned by his former employer about university ban culture. The magazine revealed that, of the 115 universities surveyed, 63 have “banned and actively censored ideas on campus”, and were given a red rating. These institutions include Russell Group outfits such as Oxford, Leeds and, importantly, LSE.

A knee-jerk intolerance towards ideologies that challenge political correctness is a growing trend across UK universities, and LSE is no doubt paving the way for this ban-heavy approach. Recently, the university’s student union suspended the rugby club for a year after it handed out sexist and homophobic leaflets, and the atheist society has been prohibited from wearing T-shirts depicting Jesus and Mohammed holding hands.

It’s the LSE Speakeasy’s mission to combat this ban culture, and stamp out what they term the university’s “safe-space bubble”.

But aspiring lawyer Palmer isn’t all too convinced by Parker and co’s objectives, or at least their approach. The final year LLB-er — who has completed a work experience placement at magic circle firm and global titan Linklaters — was quick to slam three of the LSE Speakeasy team for their appearance in the Evening Standard last month.

After blasting the society as, at best, “naïve to the limits on freedom of expression”, the law student continued:

The first thing I thought when I saw the article in the Evening Standard was ‘Who on earth are these guys?’ Really, where have these crusaders been?… Instead of actually doing any debating, our three musketeers have decided to set up a society in the name of debate and get their faces in the papers.

The society is, unsurprisingly, pretty shocked by Palmer’s attack. Spokesman Connor Naylor — a second year International Relations student — told the Daily Mail:

We know that there are some individuals who oppose us. However, I find it hard to believe that people will not see the breath-taking irony of banning a free speech society.

However, even Palmer himself doesn’t seem all that serious about getting the LSE Speakeasy banned. He later goes someway to retracting his scathing assault on the society — which he says has “a silly name” — by insisting that he doesn’t really want them banned, but filed the motion to make “a point”.

And that he has. It certainly seems that Palmer, who — according to his Twitter — has already appeared on Daily Politics, is keen to get his name out there.