Banned Southampton University conference on Israel: Mansfield Chambers barristers defend academic freedom of speech

Mansfield barristers leading litigation for freedom of speech

An academic conference at the University of Southampton dealing with the ongoing occupation of the State of Palestine by Israel has been banned for the second year in a row. The University's justification for the ban was last year subject to judicial review. Now that the conference has again been banned, Mark McDonald and Shivani Jegarajah of Mansfield Chambers along with Natalie Csengeri of Farringdon on Chambers, instructed by Paul Heron of Public Interest Lawyers, are renewing proceedings in the High Court to overturn the decision.

The case is expected to be a leading case on academic freedom of expression, which is protected under the Education Act 1988. The banning of the conference was ostensibly on health and safety grounds, but this is challenged by the academics bringing the legal challenge, it being asserted that the ban was in fact the result of concerted political lobbying. The case is therefore set to be a major test of the protections established by the 1988 Act.

The case has already been reported in the Guardian and on Electronic Intifada.

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Although the academics' legal team have been acting pro bono to date, the process of litigation is inevitably expensive. Please consider donating to help fund the litigation.