Another Insight Into The Oxford Union

Archive Archive

On the eve of this year's exciting Presidential Election for the Oxford Union, L6th pupils Dan Richards and Millie Ross visited the prestigious chamber to observe the motion: 'This House believes that a public person has no right to a private life.'

Befitting such a contentious issue, it is no surprise that there were seven guests among the eleven speakers who passionately fought for their cause. Of these, Heather Brooke, the journalist and writer best known for her part in bringing MPs' expenses into the open, argued that privacy might be seen as irrelevant where public money and interest were involved.

Andrew Caldecott QC, a barrister specialising in defamation, privacy, breach of confidence, contempt of court and media law, countered that, while one person's privacy was another's cry for attention and some had a keener desire for privacy than others, everyone had a basic right to privacy; also when privacy was effectively bought for money, truth was the first casualty.

Baroness Buscombe, Chairwoman of the Press Complaints Commission, raised the effect on family connected to those whose privacy had been compromised. She believed firmly in freedom of speech but with this came the expectation of responsibility.

Solicitor Mark Stephens was concerned that public figures might try to hide true fact behind the cloak of privacy. For some figures, he suggested the only thing worse than publicity was no publicity at all. Roused from the benches and with fresh memories of press invasion and salacious journalism, Max Mosley sharply countered, passionately opposing the motion.

The chamber voted, in traditional manner, by filing though the exit, passing either under the sign for the Ayes or the Noes. It was soon apparent the Noes had successfully opposed the motion.

Former Bablake pupil Will Chamberlain, current Librarian for the Union, spoke eloquently in the debate, helping propose the motion. He also took the floor beforehand as one of four candidates standing for the sabbatical post of President of the Oxford Union. All Bablake fingers are crossed in the hope he will be successful in that election!

Former pupils Francesca Melhuish, Laura Dean and James Ross had kindly greeted Dan and Millie before the debate and given them a tour of Jesus College.

Will came a creditable second in the Presidential election with around a third of all votes cast.

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