Edward Leigh is the Member of Parliament for Gainsborough.
For centuries, men and women in Britain have fought for the right to express in words what is in their hearts. Freedom of speech is, perhaps, our most precious civil liberty after the right to life itself.
But there is a widely held concern that civil liberties such as freedom of speech are being eroded. Many blame the last government for this. Even the current Leader of the Opposition admitted that the Labour government was “draconian” on civil liberties.
But it is not just changes in the law that lead to the erosion of freedoms. It is changes in policing practice.
Since the 1930s Public Order law has criminalised “threatening, abusive or insulting” words or behaviour. That phrase is now found in Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986.