New counter-extremism powers will be well-balanced, insists new Business Secretary, Sajid Javid
The whole Government will work with Home Secretary, Theresa May, in dealing with the challenges presented by extremism, according to new Business Secretary, Sajid Javid.
“What matters are the policies we actually come up with and try to legislate for and those will be well balanced policies and at its heart will be the protection of freedom of speech,” Javid insisted.
When he was Culture Secretary prior to last month’s elections, he warned Prime Minister, David Cameron, against plans circulated by the Home Office to give Ofcom the power to vet TV programmes before being broadcast, saying it would be a potential threat to freedom of speech.
“Extending Ofcom’s powers to enable it to take pre-emptive action would move it from its current position as a post-transmission regulator into the role of censor,” he said in a letter leaked to the Guardian.
“This would be a fundamental shift in the way UK broadcasting is regulated, away from the current framework, which is designed to take appropriate account of the freedom of expression of post-transmission regulation which takes account of the right to freedom of expression.”
The only Muslim member of Cameron’s Cabinet also voiced concern about the “risk the powers would be used otherwise than intended, not least the difficulty of defining extremism and the consequent likelihood of the government being seen to be interfering with freedom of speech without sufficient justification.”
His warning was that he would be unable to agree to the strategy and when questioned about it on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on May 24, Javid diplomatically said that “May has a very difficult job to do with the challenges she faces.”
“The whole Government – including me – will work with her in dealing with those challenges,” he said, insisting that the final proposals that were due to be released in the Counter Extremism Bill included in the Queen’s Speech would be “well balanced”.