Go forth and be irritating

Friday 23 July 1999 23:02
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A JUDGE yesterday championed freedom of speech for "the irritating, the contentious, the eccentric, the heretical, the unwelcome and provocative".

Ruling that a Christian fundamentalist had the right to preach outside Wakefield Cathedral, despite the annoyance she caused, Lord Justice Sedley said: "Freedom only to speak inoffensively is not worth having." The High Court judge, sitting in London with Mr Justice Collins, allowed an appeal by Alison Redmond-Bate of Leeds against a conviction by local magistrates for obstructing police. The conviction had been upheld at crown court.

He said: "Free speech includes not only the inoffensive but the irritating, the contentious, the eccentric, the heretical, the unwelcome and the provocative provided it does not tend to provoke violence."

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