UCL Faculty of Laws


Hybrid | A Liberal Defence of No-Platforming

29 March 2023, 11:30 am–1:00 pm

Image of Dr John Adenitire

This event is organised by the UCL Public Law Group

Event Information

Open to



UCL Laws


UCL Faculty of Laws
Bentham House
4-8 Endsleigh Gardens

This Public Law Group talk has been rescheduled from Monday 27 February 2023.

About the Paper

I defend a definition of no-platforming as the practice by private actors of obstructing or attempting to obstruct a speaker on the ground that the speech or the speaker is deeply objectionable, usually for moral reasons. I offer a liberal and rights-based defence of no-platforming: no-platforming is protected by the liberal rights to free speech and association except when it is violent. The implication of the argument is that those committed to protecting free speech also ought to protect non-violent forms of no-platforming. The free speech rights of no-platformers will normally need to be balanced against the free speech rights of those being no-platformed. This may entail enabling no-platformed speakers to be heard despite the obstruction by no-platformers. Nevertheless, the moral conflict is not simply between free speech and non-discrimination, or between free speech and academic freedom. It is a conflict between free speech and free speech.

About the Speaker

Dr John Adenitire is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Law and a Fellow of the Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences at Queen Mary, UoL. Prior to joining Queen Mary, he was a Lecturer in Law at the University of Birmingham. He completed his PhD at the University of Cambridge, Faculty of Law and Fitzwilliam College. He is the author of ‘A General Right to Conscientious Exemption: Beyond Religious Privilege’ (Cambridge University Press 2020).

About the Commentators

Image of Robert Simpson
Robert Simpson is an Associate Professor in the Philosophy Department at University College London. I write about free speech, social epistemology, liberalism, applied ethics, and religion. I teach courses at UCL on free speech and autonomy, epistemology in contemporary society, and legal philosophy. Robert's main research interests are in social and political philosophy, primarily related to freedom of speech. He is interested in figuring out the best ways to reconcile a robust commitment to free speech with recognition of the strong case for regulating various forms of communication that are harmful to individuals and corrosive to societies. He also works on a range of issues in political theory, social epistemology, ethics, and applied ethics.

Image of Gavin Philipson
Gavin Phillipson is Professor of Public Law and Human Rights at the University of Bristol and currently Visiting Fellow at the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights, Oxford. He has published widely on UK, European and comparative free speech law in work that seeks to apply the philosophical rationales underpinning freedom of speech to a range of legal problems, including the clash with privacy and reputational rights, the limits of public protest, and the problems of hate speech and ‘glorification of terrorism’. He is currently interested in analysis of the different regulatory models available for content moderation of extreme speech online. His work has been cited in judgments by the High Court, Court of Appeal, former House of Lords and Supreme Court in the UK, by the New Zealand Court of Appeal, Law Commission in its reports on hate crime and by the Media Lawyer’s Association’s intervention before the European Court of Human Rights in Von Hannover v Germany (no 2) (2012).
About the Group

The UCL Public Law Group is a community of scholars working in the field of public law, broadly understood. Our aim is to provide a supportive forum for the discussion and development of theoretical and doctrinal questions in constitutional theory, comparative constitutional law, human rights, judicial review, legal and political theory, and more. 

Read more about the group and its work.

Book your place

You can attend this event in-person at UCL Faculty of Laws (Bentham House, 4-8 Endsleigh Gardens, London WC1H 0EG) or alternatively you can join via a live stream.

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