A Scottish bishop has welcomed new proposals by the Government to protect free speech at universities.

Bishop John Keenan of Paisley said he was glad that universities would be held to account when groups were banned “on the pretext of protecting other students’ feelings”.

From April a new regulator, the Office for Students, could fine, suspend or deregister universities that do not uphold free speech, under proposals now open for consultation.

Pro-life groups have been a particular target for “no-platforming” campaigns.

Last year the students’ union at Strathclyde University blocked a pro-life group from becoming affiliated to it, saying the establishment of such groups violated students’ “safe space”.

Bishop Keenan said: “In one sense I am glad to see this announcement that universities will be held to account when they ban groups, like pro-life, from campus on the pretext of protecting other students’ feelings and wellbeing. It seems that all you have to do nowadays is to talk about your own particular set of victims being hurt by your opponent’s ideas in order to censor any opinions you do not like from the public square.

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