THE High Court threw up an interesting debate last week when radio shock jock Jon Gaunt was told he had the right to at least argue in the Royal Courts of Justice that he had been unfairly punished for calling a councillor a ‘Nazi’ on the air. He was fired from TalkSport and censured by Ofcom for his choice of words about Michael Stark from Redbridge Council while discussing the smoking ban.
Gaunty, who also wrote a column for The Sun, argued his freedom of speech had been curbed and that it was not for Ofcom to intervene: “It goes back to Magna Carta – as an Englishman, I have a right to say what I feel.”
For the preliminary hearing at which it was decided the case can go to a full blown hearing, an unlikely ally was in court. Shami Chakrabarti from Liberty watched on. She supports Gaunt, saying afterwards: “There is a big principle here. People do not have the right not to be offended. It’s a very dangerous right to assert.”
So people do not have the right not to be offended by being called a Nazi. That’s a double negative to read carefully. It puts a different complexion on Camden Council’s last full council meeting where Conservative member Chris Philp was described as ‘a Nazi Stormtrooper from Schindler’s List’. For anybody who wasn’t there, the black box below should fill you in.
(NB: A swift apology for the language was issued in both Gaunt and Russell’s case)