Compiled by Mark Wanstall
This is a list of some individuals who were banned from speaking at universities in the UK and Ireland or faced campaigns to silence them. Several are subject to multiple bans and not all bans are listed here. It also includes academics who were disciplined or dismissed by their universities for their views. Listing individuals here does not imply that AFAF supports the views of any individual. We support free speech, no ifs, no buts. Please email AFAF with any additions or corrections (click on the names for further information).
Trevor Phillips. April 2020. Phillips, the first black president of the National Union of Students and a former chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, has been condemned as a ‘racist’ and called a ‘coon’ for his rejection of the victimhood narrative of identity politics and his defence of free speech : ‘In an open letter criticising Public Health England for appointing Phillips to the inquiry into Covid’s impact on black and ethnic-minority communities, 100 black women from the worlds of media, law, health, education and publishing damn Phillips on the basis that he holds views that respectable black community groups disapprove of.’ Phillip’s future as a speaker at any university looks bleak.
Tim Hayward, Piers Robinson, David Miller and others. April 2020. The Times (11 April) attacked a group of British Academics from the Universities of Edinburgh, Bristol (and elsewhere) who are members of the Organisation for Propaganda Studies (OPS) for ‘sharing conspiracy theories’ about Covid-19. Professor David Miller of the University of Bristol, and a director of the group, responded saying the OPS aimed to ‘…scrutinise propaganda and intelligence campaigns’ with a particular focus on where the British Media seem to amplify state propaganda. The Times leader also noted that they had criticised some members of this group in April 2018 but no university had ‘distanced itself’ from their output. That must mean that they want university management to state that they do not support these heretical opinions or worse. Whatever it means, it is an attack on academic freedom. In 2018, AFAF wrote an open letter to the paper. We expressed the hope that their attack on academics during the Syrian conflict was just a blip its support for free speech. Apparently not. Once again The Times is seeking to silence critical thinking when we need it most.
Eva Poen. March 2020. University of Exeter economics lecturer, Dr Eva Poen, faced censure from LGBT students for a what they claim was a ‘transphobic’ comment on Twitter that ‘only female people menstruate’. The University stood firm and a spokesperson said: ‘…academic freedom and freedom of speech are fundamental to our university. In the pursuit of new knowledge, free and open debate is crucial.’ Poen’s case is an example of the daily harassment academics can face for stating what is true.
Amber Rudd. March 2020. The former Conservative Home Secretary was no-platformed 30 minutes before she was due to speak at the UNWomen Oxford UK Society on 5 March because of her involvement in the Windrush scandal. Rudd Tweeted:’They [the society] should stop hiding and start engaging. #FreeSpeech’.
Selina Todd. March 2020. Professor Todd was no platformed by organisers from an event at Exeter College, Oxford, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Ruskin College’s inaugural Women’s Liberation Conference. She had been promoting the event. The irony of feminists celebrating the foundation of a feminist movement by banning a feminist was not lost on the embarrassed organisers. This is Todd’s fourth appearance on this list.
Selina Todd. February 2020. An open letter signed by eighty University of Kent (UKC) academics, and others, called on the Vice-Chancellor to cancel a lecture on Class – her area of academic expertise- by Todd because she was a transphobe. This is Todd’s third appearance on this list.
Selina Todd. January 2020. The University of Oxford historian was given two male guards to protect her on the way to, and in lectures because of threats by potentially violent trans activists who accuse her of being ‘transphobic’. Professor Todd told the BBC “In the world today democracy is under threat and therefore we all have to defend the right of people to have freedom of speech and freedom of debate” rather than shutting discussion down.
Michele Moore, Stephanie Davies-Arai, Shereen Benjamin and others. December 2019. A research seminar on ‘Schools and Gender Diversity’, due to take place at Edinburgh University on 11 December was cancelled (technically ‘postponed’) after the University’s Staff Pride Network complained that some of the speakers were ‘transphobic’.
Jo Pheonix. December 2019. Professor Pheonix, from The Open University, was scheduled to speak at the University of Essex on Thursday 5 December on ‘Trans Rights and Justice’ when her seminar was cancelled at short notice because some university staff accused her of being ‘anti-trans’ and ‘exclusionary’.
Eyal Dror. November 2019. The former Israel Defence Forces soldier, who helped bring injured Syrians to Israel for medical treatment, was the object of an online petition by University of Warwick students to stop him speaking at the University on 19 November because of recent deaths in Gaza. This talk, and others, went ahead despite protests from BDS activists and their friends.
Rachel Ara. November 2019. The feminist artist was due to talk at Oxford Brookes University on 19 November but her talk was cancelled after the LGBTQ+ society sent a letter to Anne-Marie Kilday, the pro-vice-chancellor, condemning her invitation and denouncing her for being a Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist (TERF).
Noam Chomsky. October 2019. Not banned but ‘at a loss for words’ because University College London had given out a list of allegedly antisemitic tropes that must not be used at a meeting to celebrate the publication of a book on 50th anniversary of the publication of his celebrated essay on The Responsibility of Intellectuals.
Rosa Freedman. October 2019. Professor Freedman, an expert in international human rights law at the University of Reading, fears to come on campus because of threats, including death threats. She is ‘gender critical’ and believes that sex and gender should not be conflated.
Boris Johnson. September 2019. Students at the Prime Minister’s former Oxford college launched a petition to have him banned from campus and to have his alumni privileges removed. The Balliol students objected to his proroguing Parliament.
Selina Todd, Kathleen Stock and others. August 2019. Professor Todd (Professor of Modern History at the University of Oxford) and other academics faced petitions calling for them to be disciplined or sacked for being critical of gender self-identity. Their views were said to be ‘transphobic’. “This is censorship” Todd told The Times.
Sarah Honeychurch and Michele Moore. June 2019. Honeychurch was sacked from the editorial board of the journal Hybrid Pedagogy after signing a letter to The Sunday Times claiming that a programme run by Stonewall made anti-scientific claims and that the academic freedom to debate trans issues is being stifled on campus. A petition signed by 750 colleagues demanded the resignation of fellow signatory Professor Michele Moore of the University of Essex.
Mahathir Mohamad. June 2019. The Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Union of Jewish Students and other groups called for the banning of the Prime Minister of Malaysia from speaking at the Cambridge Union on 16 June 2019 because of his ‘notoriously antisemitic’ views. The talk went ahead.
Philip Pullman/The Oxford Union. June 2019. A twitter group with over 250 members is campaigning to stop speakers, including author Philip Pullman, participating in debates at the Union because of what it claims is a bias towards inviting right-wing individuals.
Maaruf Ali. May 2019. Dr Ali, a computer science lecturer, was sacked by the University of Essex. Ali had been part of an illiberal campaign to stop the formation of a student Jewish Society because: ‘…the Zionists want to create a society at our university’. He had, allegedly, posted about Zionist conspiracies and questioned the numbers of people who died in the Holocaust on Facebook.
Gunnar Beck. May 2019. Academics, the University and College Union, and Students at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) called for the sacking of the law lecturer because he is standing in the German Bundestag elections for the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party. They denounced him for standing for a far right group. They claimed his presence would harm the welfare of students and staff.
Nina Power. May 2019. The University of Roehampton lecturer was attacked by anonymous groups because they claimed she was, among other things, a Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist (TERF) and listed events at which she was speaking. She responded by calling them to an open debate in a park.
Noah Carl. May 2019. The University of Cambridge sacked Dr Carl in response to an open letter signed by academics and students demanding his removal (see December 2018 below). The University said his work was ‘ethically suspect ‘ and ‘methodologically flawed’. Dr Carl is crowd funding legal action against St Edmund’s College in defence of freedom of speech.
Roger Scruton. April 2019. The philosopher Sir Roger Scruton (University of Buckingham) was sacked from his role as a government housing advisor after an article in the New Statesman misrepresented his views on antisemitism and Islam. He was reinstated in July 2019.
Mike Buchanan and Elizabeth Hobson. May 2019. More than 300 staff, students and alumni of the University of Cambridge called for an event featuring the political party Justice for Men and Boys (J4MB), scheduled for 24 May, to be cancelled they said that the group was anti-feminist and did not reflect the values of the University.
Emma Fox. March 2019. The University of Bristol cancelled a talk by Fox ‘on security grounds.’ She had been invited to speak to the Free Speech Society on Monday 25 March. The Islamic Society and the Students’ Union organised letters of protest and demonstrations were planned to take place outside the event. Fox is the author of the University Extreme Speakers and Events Report which contains the Extreme Speakers League Table in which Bristol ranks tenth.
Jordan Peterson. March 2019. Dr Peterson’s visiting fellowship at the University of Cambridge, where he was to give talks on the Biblical book of Exodus, was rescinded by the University as they felt he did not support their ‘inclusive’ values.
Joe Sim, Paul Gilroy and other speakers. March 2019. A conference organised by the Centre For Crime and Justice Studies on ‘Prison Abolition in the UK’, due to be held on 22 and 23 May was cancelled by The Open University after trans activists vowed to target the event over the group’s policy that transgender prisoners should be incarcerated separately from non-transgender female prisoners..
Chris Hill. February 2019. Dr Hill revealed that he had been suspended in spring of 2018 and was subsequently charged with ‘gross misconduct’ by the University of Central Lancashire for his criticisms of religious belief which included arguing with a student about the £1 million funding for the University’s multi faith centre. Hill said that the money would better spent on the maths department where he was a lecturer. He left his employment by ‘mutual agreement’ after a legal challenge to the University’s actions.
Mike Buchanan. February 2019. A talk by the Justice For Men and Boys party leader on ‘Equal Rights for Men and Women’ was cancelled by the University of Winchester after 700 people signed an online petition calling for him to be banned because his party organised awards such as ‘Whiny Feminist of the Month.’
Katie Hopkins. February 2019. Staff and students at the University of Exeter tried to stop the outspoken TV personality from speaking at the Debate Society. The talk went ahead but was picketed by students shouting ‘Fascists are not welcome here’.
Peter Hitchens. February 2019. The Students’ Union at the University of Portsmouth ‘postponed’ a talk Hitchens was to give on 12 February as his previously published views did not align with the LGBT+ celebrations planned for that week.
John Finnis. January 2019. Over 400 students signed a petition demanding that Emeritus Professor Finnis (77) be removed from his teaching at the University of Oxford because of his presentation of the religious view of homosexuality in a 1994 academic paper.
Noah Carl. December 2018. Over 300 academics engaged in the academic mobbing of a junior researcher demanding that his Toby Jackman Newton Trust Research Fellowship at St Edmund’s College at the University of Cambridge should be revoked. They provided no evidence but merely criticised Dr Carl’s views.
Joanna Williams. November 2018. Students at King’s College, London tried to ban Dr Williams from speaking at an ‘Endangered Speeches’ event because of her well-known criticisms of the ‘#metoo’ movement, contemporary victim feminism and attempts to silence any debate around transgender issues.
Jenny Murray. November 2018. The host of BBC Radio 4’s Women’s Hour cancelled her talk at the University of Oxford History Society after students accused her of being ‘transphobic.’
Alice Weidel. November 2018. The leader of the far right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party cancelled her appearance at the Oxford Union after protests by the Oxford Student Union and others.
Stephen Pax Leonard. November 2018. Dr Leonard had his Senior Research Fellowship at St Chad’s College, Durham University revoked after alleged anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic tweets were reported. Leonard writes on freedom of speech and denies the allegations.
Rosa Freedman. October 2018. Students at the University of Essex called for Professor Freedman to be banned from speaking because she opposed the gender recognition act. She has been subject to verbal and other abuse from trans activists.
Aron Wall. October 2018. Various gay rights groups and individuals opposed the appointment of Dr Wall, a specialist in black hole thermodynamics and quantum gravity, as a lecturer at the University of Cambridge (due to commence in January 2019) because of his views on homosexuality.
Heather Brunskell-Evans. December 2017. An event at which she was to speak at King’s College London was cancelled because of her concerns about children defining themselves as transgender, expressed on BBC Radio 4’s The Moral Maze ‘would violate the student union’s “safe space” policy’.
Nigel Biggar. December 2017. Over 170 academics from around the world wrote an open letter demanding that Professor Biggar’s ‘Ethics and Empire’ project at the University of Oxford be closed. Biggar was accused of being an apologist for colonialism.
Yaron Brook and Carl Benjamin (AKA Sargon of Akkad). March 2018. A masked gang attacked a Libertarian Society meeting injuring security guards. The reason for the attack was that Brook, the Chair of the Board of the Ayn Rand Institute was Israeli.
Germaine Greer. October 2017. Students at Cardiff University campaigned for her lecture to be banned because of what they claim are her ‘misogynistic’ views about transgender women.
Craig Murray. March 2017. Murray was asked to provide an outline of his talk on Palestine by the Student Union at the university of Leeds or he would not be allowed to speak. Murray reluctantly gave them an outline of what he was going to say and was allowed to speak.
Tommy Robinson. October 2017. Former EDL leader Robinson was banned by the Students Union from speaking at Oxford Brookes University because his speaking was a security risk. According to Facebook 130 students were to protest outside the meeting.
Hen Mazzig. October 2016. After speaking at a University College London Friends of Israel meeting, the Israeli activist and audience were trapped in the lecture room by what was said to be a ‘violent’ anti-Israel protest. The speaker and attendees were escorted out by police.
Peter Tatchell. February 2016: The NUS LGBT Officer refused to speak on a platform at Canterbury Christ Church University to discuss ‘Re-radicalising Queers’ unless the veteran gay rights activists stepped down. One reason she gave was his opposition to ‘no platforming’ of speakers.
Macer Gifford. November 2015. University College London Union’s (UCLU) a blocked Macer Gifford from speaking at a Kurdish Society meeting. Gifford had fought with a Kurdish Militia group in Syria.
Julie Bindel. October 2015. Banned from speaking on feminism at the Free Speech Society by the University of Manchester Students’ Union for her alleged ‘transphobic’ views which violated their ‘safe space’ policy.
Maryam Namazie. September 2015 The Students’ Union at the University of Warwick banned her from speaking at the Atheists, Secularists and Humanists Society because her views were highly inflammatory and might incite hatred.’ Namazie is a campaigner against Sharia and other religious laws.
Tim Hunt. June 2015. Nobel Laureate, Sir Tim Hunt was forced to resign from his Honorary Professorship at University College London after a backlash online about what he subsequently called his ‘silly comments’ about the ‘trouble with girls‘ in laboratories during a speech at a conference in South Korea on 9 June.
Oren Ben-Dor. March 2015. Ben-Dor, a professor of law and philosophy at the University of Southampton, was one of the organisers of a conference on ‘International Law and The State of Israel: Legitimacy, Responsibility and Exceptionalism’ that was due to be held at the University in April. Among much controversy it was cancelled by the University on the ground of public safety.
Haitham al-Haddad. March 2015. Sharia court judge, Al-Haddad, was banned from speaking at a ‘Discover Islam Week’ at the University of Kent because of his ‘misogynistic, homophobic and anti-Semitic views.’
Timothy Stanley. November 2014. Stanley, a leader writer for the Telegraph, was to speak on the same panel as Brendan O’Neill but also did not have a uterus.
Brendan O’Neill. November 2014. The editor of the online current affairs magazine Spiked was banned from speaking on abortion at the University of Oxford because he did not have a uterus.
The Burkes. November 2014. Christian students Isaac Burke, Kezia Burke, Enoch Burke and Ammi Burke were banned for life from all student societies at NUI Galway. They argued this was for their Christian beliefs although the University said it was for misuse of funds. On 31 May 2019 the University lifted the ban just prior to a Circuit Court hearing on 18 June 2019.
Nigel Farage. October 2014. The UKIP leader was invited to speak by the Department of Politics and International at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge but the talk was cancelled after student protests.
Jeffrey Ketland. August 2014. A philosopher and logician, Professor Jeffrey Ketland, was suspended and then reinstated by the University of Oxford after a campaign by feminist academics accusing him of his former girlfriend’s death.
Thomas Docherty. January 2014. Docherty, the professor of English and comparative literature and a critic of the marketisation of universities, was suspended for nine months from the University of Warwick for offenses that included sighing and the use of irony.
Mohammed El-Nabawy. November 2013. El-Nabawy was unable to speak at the Palestine Society at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London when a number of Muslim Brotherhood supporters (not students) stormed the meeting. El-Nabawy is a representative of the Egyptian Tamaroud movement which played a role in the ousting of President Morsi.
Mufti Ismail Menk. November 2013. Menk was banned from speaking at the universities of Cardiff, Glasgow, Leeds, Leicester Liverpool and Oxford for his anti-gay statements.
Helen Reece. October 2013. Feminist academics at the University of Kent condemned the decision of the LSE Law Department to hold a debate ‘Is Rape Different?’ on 30 October 2013 as part of its ‘Debating Law’ programme at which Reece stressed the importance of questioning the “strong consensus” that rape is different to other crimes.
George Galloway. March 2013. An invitation to speak at the University of Chester Debating Society was revoked when the Student Union upheld the NUS ‘no platforming’ ban on Galloway.
David Gale. March 2014. The University of Derby Students’ Union banned the UKIP Candidate for Police and Crime Commissioner from speaking as part of a ‘no platforming’ policy that included UKIP alongside prohibited groups.
David Willetts. November 2011. The higher education minister was forced to abandon his speech at the University of Cambridge on ‘The Idea of the University’ when students protesting about fee increases stormed his lecture.
Nick Griffin. October 2011. The BNP leader was banned from speaking at the University Philosophical Society at Trinity College Dublin on the topic of ‘This House Believes That Immigration Has Gone Too Far.’
Rod Thornton. April 2011. Dr Thornton was suspended from his lectureship at the University of Nottingham for publishing a 112 page meticulously detailed account of the University of Nottingham’s actions in relation to the ‘Nottingham Two’ (see May 2008 below).
Dylan Evans. November 2009. In what became known as ‘fruitbatgate,’ Dr Evans was subject to disciplinary sanctions by University College Cork for showing a female colleague an article on the sex life of fruit bats.
David Nutt. October 2009. Professor Nutt, head of psychopharmacology at the University of Bristol, was asked to resign as chairman of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) by the home Secretary, Alan Johnson. Nutt had argued that ecstasy and LSD were less harmful than the legal drugs tobacco and alcohol.
Joachim Shlöer/ Tel Aviv at 100. January 2009. The Students’ Union, backed by the University and College Union, at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London called for the ending of a bi-monthly lecture series in honour of the centenary of the founding of Tel Aviv because of the conflict in Gaza. The protests were not successful and the lectures went ahead. As well as Professor Shlöer, from the University of Southampton, other speakers included: the Palestinian Ambassador, Professor Manuel Hassassian, formerly of Bethlehem University and Professor Reuven Snir, an anti-Zionist Israeli Professor from Haifa University.
Hicham Yezza and Rizwaan Sabir (The Nottingham Two). May 2008. A PhD student and a member of staff were arrested after the University of Nottingham alerted the police to their suspicious actions. They had downloaded the so-called ‘Al-Qaeda training manual’ which was readily available for download on a US government website and also on Amazon.com.
Nick Griffin and David Irving. November 2007. Students and anti-racists tried to ban Griffin and Irving from speaking at the Oxford Union. They protested at the event forcing Griffin and Irving to speak from separate rooms.
David Colquhoun. June 2007. Professor Colquhoun had his ‘quackbusting blog’ criticising alternative medicine removed from the website of University College London after complaints from alternative therapists.
David Coleman. March 2007. Students at the University of Oxford campaigned to have Professor Coleman sacked because of his connection with the organisation he co-founded – MigrationWatch. Coleman is a leading expert on demographics.
Frank Ellis. March 2006. Dr Ellis was suspended by the University of Leeds for expressing support for Charles Murray’s arguments in The Bell Curve about differences in intelligence between races which campaigners said was outside of his narrow area of professional expertise.
Edzard Ernst. September 2005. Ernst was cleared after being investigated for thirteen months over a complaint made by Prince Charles’s private secretary, Sir Michael Peat (22 September 2005) alleging a breach of confidence in publishing a draft research report. Ernst was the first ever professor of complementary medicine but was very critical of some alternative medicines, particularly homeopathy. He retired early in 2011 and his department at the University of Exeter was closed.