Is Freedom of Expression at risk in Britain?

by Pandora Longstreth

English PEN has raised concern after the Court of Appeal’s decision last week to prevent the publication of a memoir.

“The Court of Appeal’s injunction last week preventing publication of a memoir poses a significant threat to freedom of expression. The Court has ruled that the book should not be published on the grounds that it may cause psychological harm to the author’s child, who suffers from disabilities, including Asperger’s and ADHD.”

The memoir dealt with the sexual abuse that the writer suffered as a child. The writer’s ex-wife imposed an injunction on the publishing of the book arguing that it would harm their child. However, English PEN point out that this memoir is not targeted at children and will not be published in the country where the child lives. They raise concern that this decision by the Court of Appeal could have a detrimental impact upon freedom to read and write in the UK.

The author has spoken previously in discussions sexual abuse. These discussions ultimately led to the arrest of one of his abusers. English PEN believes that publishing this memoir is in the public interest and may also help for others to speak out too.

“The author was left traumatised by his abuse and suffered episodes of severe mental illness but was said to have since brought his experiences together in “an artistic and insightful way”.”

The list of Authors voicing their concerns in full:

William Boyd

John Carey

Jim Crace

Jonathan Dimbleby

Cory Doctorow

Michael Frayn

Maureen Freely (President, English PEN)

Stephen Fry

Daisy Goodwin

David Hare

Tom Holland

Hari Kunzru

Marina Lewycka

Blake Morrison

Katharine Norbury

Will Self

Tom Stoppard

Colin Thubron

Colm Tóibín

Jeffrey Archer


Read the judgment and analysis of the judgment here.



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