Academic Freedom

Thank you for your recent email.

Academic freedom is enormously important. Our universities cannot perform their role if any academic is prevented from pursuing the truth through research and scholarship, without fear or favour.

I am glad to say that I don’t believe there is any threat whatsoever to such freedom in our universities at present.

There is a quite separate question about the political views of individuals who happen to hold academic positions. Such individuals, like every other citizen of the UK, are entirely free to express whatever opinion they choose provided that – like the rest of us – they do so within the law.

At the same time, any other individual, whether a private citizen, a Member of Parliament or a journalist, is at liberty under our law to challenge the opinions expressed by such individuals. And that, too, is part of the freedom of speech and of the press which is a hallmark of our liberal and democratic society. I will therefore defend both the rights of individuals in universities and elsewhere to hold and express views against Brexit, and the rights of others to criticise those views.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.