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Disgraced writer Graham Linehan to discuss free speech in parliament after being banned from Twitter for ‘hateful conduct’

Emma Powys Maurice March 4, 2021
Graham Linehan

Disgraced comedy writer Graham Linehan (Creative Commons/re:publica from Germany)

Graham Linehan has been invited to give evidence in parliament on “freedom of expression online” after being permanently banned from Twitter for “hateful conduct”.

The disgraced comedy writer and anti-trans campaigner is set to give oral evidence to the Communications and Digital Committee on Tuesday (9 March).

He will be joined by Helen Staniland, a software developer and prominent anti-trans figure who was also kicked off Twitter for violating the platform’s conduct policies.

The pair will be followed by speakers from the Open Rights Group and the Society for Civil Rights, two organisations working to protect freedom of speech online.

“Debates and exchanges of information and content increasingly take place online,” reads an introduction to the inquiry. “The internet has enabled individuals to publish and share their views with large audiences in a way that was not previously possible.

“This inquiry will investigate how public policy can best protect the right to freedom of expression on the internet and how that right should be balanced with other priorities.”

It follows Graham Linehan’s recent attempt to speak at the Oxford Union debate society on “cancel culture” – otherwise known as consequences for one’s actions – before his invitation was withdrawn amid student protests.

He has long contested his Twitter ban, which came in June 2020 after wilful and repeated violations of the platform’s rules against hateful conduct and platform manipulation.

He continues to voice his anti-trans views to an online audience via Substack, Medium and Telegram, and in interviews with The Telegraph and the LGB Alliance. Yet he views his exclusion from Twitter as proof he is being “silenced” for his controversial opinions.

Graham Linehan’s behaviour has raised further concerns over the last few months with him attempting to sneak back onto Twitter and the lesbian dating app Her by pretending to be a trans person.

The question of why such an individual was considered appropriate to give evidence that may influence public policy was raised by PinkNews to Lord Gilbert of Panteg, who is chair of the Communications and Digital Committee.

The Conservative peer was asked to justify the decision to give a prominent platform to a person with a long-documented history of “hateful conduct”, and to clarify why a persistent violation of Twitter policies constitutes a free speech issue.

He is also asked to confirm what measures, if any, are being taken to ensure the committee maintains balance on the subject of trans rights.

Lord Gilbert has yet to offer a reply.

More: graham linehan, Trans, transphobia, Twitter

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