Mr Speaker refuses to intervene in Ely MP’s Scottish row because of her right to ‘freedom of speech’

 Lucy Frazer MP

Lucy Frazer MP - Credit: Archant

The House of Commons Speaker has refused to intervene in the “Scottish slaves” row which has enveloped Ely MP Lucy Frazer since her maiden speech citing ‘freedom of speech’.

A petition calling for her and other Conservative backbenchers who laughed at her comments to publicly apologise has been launched on-line at by Martin Keatings of Cairneyhill in London.

In his petition he outlines the history of the battle of Dunbar, which saw 5,000 Scots taken prisoner and marched 100 miles to Durham. Many died and others were sold into slavery in America and the Caribbean.

Mr Keating writes in his petition to the Speaker: “I would like to impress upon you the severity of her statement and indeed the offensive nature of the statement she has made. To take delight in the slaughter, starvation, pain, anguish and sale of human beings into forced servitude is not just outrageous but egregious. I have written to you today in petition form so that others may seek to add their names to support this letter.

“We seek the Speaker to immediately direct Lucy Frazer and the other MPs present who were laughing to make a full and public apology in the Commons to the people of Scotland.”

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In a written response Jade Knight, secretary to the Speaker’s secretary, states: “Mr Speaker is not able to comment on individual cases of this kind. The Speaker has asked me to say that Members of the House of Commons are covered by Parliamentary Privilege, which includes freedom of speech. It is stated in Erskine May that: “Subject to the rules of order in debate, Members may state whatever they think fit in debate, however offensive it may be to the feelings or injurious to the character, of individuals, and they are protected by this privilege from any action for libel, as well as from any other question or molestation.

“Whilst there is a ready acknowledgement that Members’ freedom of speech should be used responsibly, it is basic to that freedom that it should not be curtailed by the Speaker, unless there has been some breach of the House’s own rules. If you feel that she behaved inappropriately in some way, the correct course is to let Lucy Frazer MP know your views.

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