David Davis hosts event with Rowan Atkinson


An event in Parliament which David Davis hosted with Rowan Atkinson has been written about in Politics Home.

Many Tory civil libertarians are celebrating Theresa May’s decision to block Gary McKinnon’s extradition.

Tonight, they can gather again on another issue: freedom of speech. David Davis is hosting a Parliamentary reception in Westminster Hall as part of the Reform Section 5 Campaign.

The campaign aims to remove the word ‘insulting’ from Section 5 of the Public Order Act, a current restriction that critics claim criminalises many ordinary insults and is as ludicrous as it is disproportionate.

But DD can expect an even bigger crowd than usual because he has invited Rowan Atkinson* aka Johnny English aka Mr Bean.

Atkinson, long a campaigner for comedians’ right to offend and insult, appeared in Parliament 8 years ago to protest at the excesses of the Blair Government’s bill to outlaw religious hatred.

He’s now back because he feels Section 5 is ripe for reform. (This is the law that was used to arrest a student who called a police horse ‘gay’).

There could be quite a crowd. I’m told that the Reform Section 5 website crashed for 15 minutes this morning after Stephen Fry tweeted this link:

“@stephenfry Insults aren’t nice. But should they be illegal? Support my friends in removing “insulting” from public order act http://reformsection5.org.uk”

Word is that Gordon Brown is not going to attend. The joke is that he doesn’t want to go ‘from Stalin to Mr Bean…’

*FOOTNOTE: It’s not just Atkinson who will attend tonight. Lord Dear, former Chief Constable of West Midlands Police and Assistant Met Commissioner, will speak too.