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Free to annoy

In a welcome move the government has announced that it is dropping proposals to replace asbos with ‘ipnas’, injunctions designed to prevent ‘nuisance and annoyance’.  This followed a victory in the Lords for an amendment, introduced by one of the bill’s opponents, Lord Dear.  Fears had been expressed that the bill could be used to silence street preachers, carol singers and protestors.

Keith Porteous Wood, National Secular Society executive director, said: “No one should be subjected to legal sanctions simply for causing annoyance. This law would have been exploited to silence the free expression of views some thought offensive or did not agree with.”

“Clause 1 clearly failed to strike a reasonable balance between protecting the public from anti-social behaviour and protecting essential freedoms, and we are pleased the Government now acknowledges this.”

The campaign attracted a very varied group of supporters, including the National Secular Society, The Peter Tatchell Foundation and the Christian Institute.