AFAF Advisory Board

We have taken a different approach to building our Board. We have invited a range of individuals with different subject backgrounds, views and opinions, but all of whom are willing to defend free speech and academic freedom. They include students, postgraduates, alumni, early career lecturers, professors and others to vice-chancellor level. 

The role of our advisors is to advise – to comment privately, on our activities and our plans and keep us informed of issues that we should address. We will expand our Board membership over the coming year.

Dr Roba Al-Ghabra

Roba completed a qualification in medicine and then changed direction. She pursued a career in law and is now a solicitor at Birnberg Peirce specialising in immigration law, dealing with a variety of cases from asylum to applications of entry clearance and assisting those who face deportation.

Dr Shereen Benjamin

Shereen is a senior lecturer in primary education at the University of Edinburgh. She is the author of The Micropolitics of Inclusive Education and a joint editor of The Politics of Gender and Education: Critical Perspectives. She has written on academic freedom and freedom of expression for the Times Educational Supplement and the Morning Star.

Dr Jim Butcher

Jim is a reader in the business school at Canterbury Christ Church University and author of three books on the politics of travel. He co-ordinates the Don’t Divide Us academics group. Jim has written on education, free speech and other matters on Spiked, Times Higher, Areo and elsewhere.

Tessa Clarke

Tessa is a free speech campaigner. She is an award-winning journalist, documentary maker, media commentator and author of Restraint or Revelation? free speech and privacy in a confessional age and Disclosure: media freedom and the privacy debate after Diana. She is an alumna of the International Journalists’ Programmes (IJP, Germany).

Dr Julia Gasper

Julia is an academic and writer. Her books include The Marquis d’Argens: A Philosophical Life and Elizabeth Craven, Writer, Feminist and European.

Professor Dennis Hayes

Dennis is the Director of Academics For Academc Freedom. His is a visiting professor at the University of Buckingham and an Emeritus Professor of Education at the University of Derby. He is the co-author of the contoversial, best-selling book The Dangerous Rise of Therapeutic Education.

Professor Terence Kealey

Terence is a biochemist and is a former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Buckingham. His publications include The Economic Laws of Scientific Research, Sex, Science and Profits, and Breakfast is a Dangerous Meal: Why You Should Ditch Your Morning Meal For Health and Wellbeing.

Professor Ellie Lee

Ellie is a sociologist of the family and parenting culture at the University of Kent and is the co-author of Parenting Culture Studies.  She considers the upholding of liberal values by adults to be central to the effective socialisation of children. She is involved with colleagues at Kent in finding ways of promoting the centrality of academic freedom to meaningful campus life, for staff and students. She has spoken out against compulsory values training for students as antithetical to academic freedom.

Dr Penny Lewis

Penny is programme lead for the University of Dundee/ Wuhan University BA Architectural Studies (Hons) programme. She teaches architectural history and design; her research looks at the impact of environmental thought on architecture and the public realm.  Penny lives in Fife in Scotland where she has campaigned against the Named Person legislation, the Smacking Ban and the Hate Crime Bill, and for parental rights and free speech.  She was the lead editor and a contributor to the book Architecture and Collective Life (Routledge 2021). 

Harry Saul Markham

Harry is a student at UCL, the President of the UCL Friends of Israel Society, and a Critical Thinking Fellow at the Ayaan Hirsi Ali Foundation.

Dr Ruth Mieschbuehler

Ruth is a senior lecturer in education studies at the University of Derby. Her publications include The Racialisation of Campus Relations and The Minoritisation of Higher Education Students: An Examination of Contemporary Policies and Practice.

Katherine Morgan-Davies

Katherine is the author of The Girl in the Shadows. She is a final year joint honours student at Leeds University.

Richard Reynolds

Richard is a barrister practicing from Three Temple Gardens. His practice ranges from gangs and guns to the finer points of Human Rights law. He will be appearing in the UK Supreme Court later this year. As a student, he organised Students For Academic Freedom (SFAF)

Professor Andrew Tettenborn

Andrew is a professor of commercial and shipping law at Swansea University. He is a member of the Heterodox Academy, Don’t Divide Us and the Free Speech Union, and sits on the Legal Advisory Committee of the latter. In addition he writes on political topics in a number of publications, including the Spectator and Spiked.

Dr Neil Thin

Neil  is a Senior Lecturer [from August 2022 Honorary Research Fellow] and former Director of the Undergraduate School of Social and Political Science at the University of Edinburgh. He also formerly served as a Parliamentary Fellow in the Scottish Parliament and as International Development Adviser to the Scottish Government, as well as serving on the boards of several major international charities, as Adviser to UN/Government of Bhutan Development and Happiness Committee, and as Chair of Practical Action/Oxfam Publications. He has authored several books on Development and on Wellbeing, most recently A Research Agenda for Social Wellbeing (Elgar, 2020).

Professor James Tooley

James is the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Buckingham where he is also professor of Education Entrepreneurship and Policy.  His ground-breaking research on low-cost private education has won numerous awards. His book based on this research, The Beautiful Tree: A personal journey into how the world’s poorest are educating themselves was a best-seller in India and won the Sir Antony Fisher Memorial Prize.

Jem PJ Vanston

Jem is originally from Kent but now lives in Swansea. He is a former English college teacher and private tutor, a published songwriter and author of eight books, including three satirical novels (two set on university campuses), three cat stories, and a much-loved illustrated Christmas poem Santa Goes on StrikeAuthor website:

Dr Stuart Waiton

Stuart is a senior lecturer in sociology and criminology at Abertay University in Dundee and specialises in new forms of criminalisation, including the criminalisation of language. He is a columnist for the Glasgow Herald and blogs at

His book, Snobs’ Law examines the criminalisation of football fans. His work examining the threat to academic freedom centres around the problem of treating staff and students as essentially vulnerable.

AFAF Members

AFAF has a network of academic contacts at universities in the UK and Internationally. This network is essential to keep AFAF informed of the state of free speech and academic freedom in every institution. 

Several universities will soon have autonomous local AFAF networks. The University of Edinburgh AFAF network is the first to launch. 

If you are interested in becoming part of an AFAF network please get in touch with the director, Professor Dennis Hayes, using the contact form on this website.  There are no membership fees but donations are always welcome!

The names of all members of the national network are confidential. They will receive regular communications about AFAF and there will be a meeting for all members as part of the first AFAF annual conference in 2022 (details to follow). 

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