• Date and time: Thursday 16 February 2023, 6.30pm to 7.30pm
  • Location: In-person only
    Room RCH/037, Ron Cooke Hub, Campus East, University of York (Map)
  • Audience: Open to alumni, staff, students, the public
  • Admission: Free admission, booking required

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Event details

York Ideas Lecture

It’s difficult to open a newspaper or look at social media without being told about the “great crisis of our age”: “wokeness”. This is an existential threat to the West: A “dangerous form of decadence” that suffocates freedom of speech and academic freedom through “cancel culture”. Or so we’re told. 
In fact the confected culture wars are nothing more than a way to silence criticism of those in power. They employ George Orwell’s “doublespeak” (promoting an ideology directly contrary to reality) - purporting to defend freedom and democracy while doing the opposite. 
Barrister Sam Fowles has defended democracy in court in some of the most influential cases of the age. In this lecture, he explores the themes of his bestselling book Overruled: Confronting Our Vanishing Democracy in 8 Cases (The Times Best Law Books of 2022) and takes aim at those using the language of freedom to undermine democracy.

About the speaker

Dr Sam Fowles, is an author, educator and Barrister specialising in constitutional and international law, and human rights. He serves as Director of the Institute for Constitutional Research and is a member of Cornerstone Barristers and a lecturer at St Edmund Hall, University of Oxford. Sam’s clients include members of parliament, NGOs, individuals and SMEs. His work often deals with major public policy issues. Most recently, he served as counsel to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Democracy and the Constitution’s inquiry into judicial independence, which concluded that populist attacks on judges are undermining our democratic constitution.

Sam’s recent book Overruled: Confronting Our Vanishing Democracy in 8 Cases was described as 'a fascinating insider account of the complex and opaque British legal system, and a timely warning about the steady erosion of British democracy at the hands of unaccountable elites'. When the Prime Minister illegally prorogued Parliament, Sam was part of the team that took him to court, and won. He also worked on high-profile cases against the Metropolitan Police and The Post Office. Sam is a sought after media commentator, with regular appearances on BBC Business, BBC World and Al Jazeera. He is a regular columnist for Open Democracy and Politics.co.uk.