Author Archives: Keith Porteous Wood

A longer read for the weekend: Tributes to Lord Eric Avebury

Eric Reginald Lubbock, Fourth Baron Avebury, died last month aged 87. The House of Lords held a memorial meeting for Lord Avebury last Tuesday, 22nd March. Here are some recollections of the meeting, and a personal note, from Keith Porteous Wood, who was Lord Avebury’s honorary researcher the last 15 years. For his role over the abolition of the blasphemy law, Eric was co-awarded Secularist of the Year by the National Secular Society of which he was an Honorary Associate, and of which Keith Porteous Wood is Executive Director.

Relatives, parliamentarians, friends and other admirers of Lord Avebury gathered to pay their respects at a meeting led by Baroness Hussein-Ece. The meeting was convened at the request of Rubab Mehdi Rizvi, chairperson of International Imam Hussain Council of which Eric was a patron and trustee. The family will be arranging a memorial meeting on 30 June.

Eric’s eldest son, Lyulph, now the fifth Baron, made clear that he had not followed the family tradition of being a politician. Six of the eight past family members who had been had been parliamentarians were Liberal or LibDem.

John William, Eric’s youngest son, spoke movingly of his Father and gave a spectacularly long list of Eric’s many campaigns, but even this proved incomplete as speaker after speaker added yet another worthy feat.

My strongest impression of the meeting was the number of people who said that Eric had made them feel “really special”. One who said this amused everyone by saying that she had almost felt jealous on discovering how many other people she had to share this with.

Posted in Something for the Weekend | Tagged and | 4 Comments

Why won’t the Government get rid of this pesky threat to free speech that nobody wants?

On Wednesday evening, Lord Mawhinney tabled an amendment (no.155) in the House of Lords to remove the word “insulting” from Section 5 of the Public Order Act to flush out the Government’s attitude on this catchall provision with a very low prosecution threshold that tarnishes our reputation for freedom of expression.

Section 5 has served to nobble those engaged in mischievous, but harmless, pranks, street preachers, and those pouring scorn on religion, but, worse, also those speaking truth to power. Of even greater concern is the chilling effect: what, for fear of prosecution, has not been said but should have …

Posted in News, Parliament and The Independent View | Tagged and | 11 Comments
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