News Release: Incitement to Religious Hatred Bill broken promise




June 9, 2005:

The Government has broken its promise to consult on the proposed Religious Hatred Bill, according to the No Offence campaign, which is organised by the writers’ group English PEN.

The Government is accused of trying to rush though a Bill in order to avoid proper public debate. This will almost certainly result in legislation that creates more racial divisiveness rather than less. The No Offence campaign states that many MPs of all parties and some in Government believe this to be the case and urge those MPs to speak up on this important issue.

In a letter to the Chair of the No Offence campaign, Lisa Appignanesi, on April 26th 2005 the Home Secretary Charles Clarke MP wrote: “As we have stated, we will continue our dialogue with faith groups on these issues. I would like to point out that in the past these dialogues have included groups of no faith and will continue to include them.”

Today Lisa Appignanesi said: “When we received that letter we assumed that the Home Secretary meant what he said and that there would be further dialogue before any bill was published. Since receiving that letter, I am not aware of any dialogue by the Government with any relevant groups and there appears to be no intention o consult as previously promised.


“The purpose of consultation in a democracy is to help secure good law. It looks very likely that what we will end up with is bad law which will only increase religious intolerance and racial hatred in this country. Fortunately, we know that there are very many MPs on all sides of the House who share this view and we hope that democracy will prevail in the Commons, even if it is being spurned by the Home Secretary.”

For further information, please contact either Lisa Appignanesi, Chair of the No Offence campaign, on 07813 613 887 or Susie Nicklin of English PEN on 020 7713 0023.


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