chapter  24
30 Pages

FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

Freedom of speech and of the press have presented such special constitutional concerns that they were accorded recognition by English courts long before incorporation of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) by the Human Rights Act 1998. Clearly, the freedom to publish critical views of the government is essential to democracy; otherwise, government could grow corrupt and opposition views would not gather the necessary support to defeat the party in power at election time. Protection of political speech is easily justified, on the basis that the right contributes to the free flow of information. An argument may also be made out for the value of broader free speech rights in a democracy since they cultivate free choice of a range of ideas which find expression in society and thereby ensure the independence of electors and legislators in the political sphere.