Court of Appeal grants permission to appeal in the free speech appeal of Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer

London Court of Appeal Lawyer and barrister, Arfan Khan appears successfully in the Court in a free speech case involving the exclusion of US nationals from the UK. He previously successfully appeared in the appeal involving the exclusion of the Dutch MP, Geert Wilders from the UK. The appeal was successful and the ban was overturned. Arfan Khan was selected Times Lawyer of the Week:

The Geert Wilders case is reported as GW (EEA Reg: 21 Fundamental Interests: Netherlands)  [2010] I.N.L.R. 337. It can be accessed through the following link:

Lord Justice Moses granted Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller permission to appeal against the refusal of leave to proceed by way of judicial review. The grant of permission to appeal is reported in an article by Mark Steyn in a snapshot article on free speech around the world which states:

Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller have achieved a small, preliminary win in what will prove a long battle to overturn the outrageous decision by Theresa May, Britain’s Home Secretary, to ban them from the country:

In an important victory for the freedom of speech, Lord Justice Moses of the British Court of Appeal has granted permission for an appeal on the papers to be heard in the case of the banning of Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer from the United Kingdom. Counsel for Geller and Spencer, Arfan Khan, argued in writing that the unacceptable behaviours policy applied by the Secretary of State to exclude Geller and Spencer was unlawful. Lord Justice Moses held that:

“There are important issues to be determined as to the lawfulness of a policy, which arguably permits the SOS to refuse entry to those whose presence may incite violence but who themselves, arguably, may not intend to do so.”

That’s the very definition of a heckler’s veto. It means that any belligerent Muslim merely has to say “If this event proceeds, we’ll go bananas” to get it closed down. Many persons of a moderate and temperate disposition seem to regard Pamela Geller as beyond the pale – my old National Post colleague Jonathan Kay can get awfully sniffy about her – and that’s fine as long as it remains metaphorical. When you place her literally beyond the pale, as the wretched Theresa May has done, you are engaging in an act of vandalism against one of the pillars of a free society.

Furthermore, if Mrs May gets away with this, what’s more likely to happen? That it remains a one-off? Or that the pale shrinks even further? Britain is now a land where you’re arrested for quoting Winston Churchill in public. On this 70th anniversary of D-Day, ask yourself whether Sir Winston would have thought it worth fighting on the beaches for so reductive a vision of liberty as that envisioned by his “Conservative” successors. And, even as Mrs May tightens the leash of permissible discourse, there’s not even any pretense that she’s operating to any coherent principles. Miss Geller and Mr Spencer were banned on the grounds that their presence would not be “conducive to the public good”. As I wrote at the time:

By contrast, the presence of, say, Anjem Choudary, philosophical mentor of the Woolwich head hackers and a man who calls for the murder of the Prime Minister, is so “conducive to the public good” that British taxpayers subsidize him generously and provide a half-million-dollar home for him to live on. Mrs May’s Home Office has just admitted to the UK Muhhamed al-Arefe who advocates wife-beating. Perhaps Mr May will try out Imam al-Arefe’s expert advice on the beneficial effects of “light beating” on Theresa this weekend – or is spousal abuse only “conducive to the public good” of Muslim women?

In other words, “conducive to the public good” boils down to the usual watery and inconsistent cocktail of appeasement, opportunism and misdirection. Theresa May is not competent to decide for her subjects the boundaries of free-ish speech. That is why it is necessary for her to lose this case, big time. So I congratulate Mr Khan and his clients on a small but important victory”.

The full article can be accessed through

The appeal which was dismissed is reported as Geller & Anor, R (on the application of) v The Secretary of State for the Home Department [2015] EWCA Civ 45, [2015] All ER (D) 54. The case can be accessed through the following link:




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