Free Speech Coalition to appeal High Court's backing of Lauren Southern, Stefan Molyneux ban

The Free Speech Coalition will appeal a controversial judicial judgement backing the decision to cancel far-right advocates Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux's venue booking last year.

And in a statement released on Monday, it threatened to go to the Supreme Court if necessary.

"This was a missed opportunity for the Court to deal with the substantive issue: whether the 'thugs veto' will be tolerated as a legitimate means of censoring speech," spokesperson Dr David Cumin says.

"We are seeking judicial support for free speech against the hecklers who threaten protest and violence to force timid officials to pull the plug on events and shut down debate."

The far-right Canadian pair's planned speaking event at the Bruce Mason Centre was cancelled by Regional Facilities Auckland (RFA) due to "security concerns" around the "health and safety" of the presenters, staff and patrons of the event.

This was backed by Auckland Mayor Phil Goff, who said Auckland Council shouldn't have to "provide a venue for hate speech".

A judicial review was brought against RFA, seeking a declaration that cancelling the event was unlawful as it didn't take into account the true security risk of the event, and that the decision was driven by Goff.

However on September 1, the High Court released its decision dismissing these claims.

"Its decision was unaffected by any mayoral view, being founded on legitimate security concerns," Justice Pheroze Jagose wrote.

Justice Jagose wrote that as a separate body from Auckland Council, RFA didn't have any public law duty under the NZ Bill of Rights Act 1990 to consider freedom of expression and therefore wasn't subject to judicial review.

Her decision raised questions among several legal experts, with Victoria University of Wellington lecturer Eddie Clark tweeting that Justice Jagose was "too quick to dismiss the publicness of the decision".

"Basically Jagose J treated this as a normal contractual decision by a body that happened to be publicly owned. Then it is almost never subject to JR. I think the better view is it's the rare case where it's more 'public' than all that," he wrote.

"I personally think this is sufficiently public to attract review. Let's get an answer on the substance."

Dr Cumin says threats to health and safety shouldn't provide a "trump card" for publicly owned venues to pull the plug on controversial events.

"Regional Facilities Auckland receives tens of millions of dollars of ratepayer money every year to run the venues for the public good, yet the High Court said no public law or human rights duties apples. That cannot be right and it sets a dangerous precedent for Councils to get around the Bill of Rights Act," he says.

"Public bodies should not be allowed to discriminate on the viewpoint of the speakers or the listeners or use weak threats as an excuse without taking into account our fundamental rights enshrined in law."

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