Legal action against Don Brash ban to 'uphold' free speech – David Cumin

First@Five 10/08/2018
Photo: AAP.

Legal action against Massey University Vice Chancellor Jan Thomas is in the works, in a response to the cancellation of Don Brash’s speaking event on campus.

Dr Brash’s speaking event was cancelled due to security concerns, particularly over a Facebook post and a comment suggesting a gun could be brought to the talk.

But the Free Speech Coalition, which Don Brash is a member of, believes that security threats were an excuse to ban Dr Brash because of his controversial beliefs.

The coalition is the same organisation that raised $50,000 to take legal action against Auckland Council for denying right-wing speakers Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux from using a council venue.

Spokesperson David Cumin told RadioLIVE’s James Coleman that court action is necessary to uphold “the fundamental value of free speech” in New Zealand.

“The point of the legal action is to make sure that this is wider than just Professor Thomas and Auckland Council.

“This is an issue that affects us all about how far public venues need to go to ensure they can protect people who express controversial ideas.”

The Vice Chancellor told RadioLIVE’s Ryan Bridge that she decided to cancel the event without the recommendation of university security and the students’ association, which Mr Cumin finds troubling.

“I was not prepared to put our staff, students and visitors on the campus at risk in that way,” Prof Thomas said.

Massey University’s corporate communications director told Newshub that the comments made on Facebook were considered "enough red flags to tip the balance" in the eyes of the Vice Chancellor.

He told Newshub that the university alerted police about the comments, but by that point they had already decided to cancel the event because they "needed to act quickly".

The Free Speech Coalition, which was formed in July with the aim of challenging Auckland Council over the cancellation of the far-right speaking event, says "thugs" have been "emboldened" by the Council's cancellation.

Listen to the full interview with David Cumin above.

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