A split has emerged at the highest level of government over controversial plans by home secretary Theresa May to vet TV programmes for extremist content ahead of broadcast, according to reports in the guardian.
The paper cites a leaked memo from 12 March to claim that business secretary Sajid Javid has bluntly refused to support the initiative amidst concerns over free speech, penning a letter to the prime minister in which he warned that the move would turn Ofcom into a ‘censor’.
The spat centres on a request for approval by May for an extremism strategy, which included the draconian measure, made back on 6 March.
Javid wrote: “It should be noted that other countries with a pre-transmission regulatory regime are not known for their compliance with rights relating to freedom of expression and government may not wish to be associated with such regimes.”
May justified the tough approach on the grounds that media publicity was providing succour to terrorists, citing cases such as a BBC Newsnight interview with extremist preacher Anjem Choudary in the aftermath of the murder of Lee Rigby.
Prime minister David Cameron will outline his new government’s legislative agenda in next week’s Queen’s speech including a vague promise to ‘strengthen the role of Ofcom to take action against channelswhich broadcast extremist content’.