As I stand on the precipice of a banking blockade, I find myself reflecting on the two-year battle we’ve waged at Save Our Rights UK (SORUK). Tomorrow, our bank account is set to be shuttered, a significant blow to our operations. We’ve been fighting for free speech and banking rights in silence, and it seems, ironically, the silence is continuing.
Despite the alarming relevance and clear implications of our struggle for freedoms in the UK, mainstream media continues to sidestep our fight. This silence seems to echo the very bias we are battling – a societal climate that suppresses dissenting voices and controversial perspectives.
I founded SORUK in April 2020 with the mission to establish real democracy in the UK, preserve human rights and civil liberties, and bring transparency and accountability to our society. But this relentless pursuit of civil liberties has come at a significant cost. After my first court appearance in May 2021, where I pled not guilty to charges related to the organisation of protests, I received a notice stating that SORUK’s business bank account would be closed. Since then, we’ve been unable to open a new account with any bank, forcing us to use personal bank accounts for our operations.
The disruption caused by these abrupt closures is staggering. This situation infringes upon not only my personal banking capacity but also hampers the operations of SORUK. We are financially stable with minimal outgoings, yet these closures severely impede our ability to carry out our vital work of preserving human rights and democratic principles in the UK.
This week, we were dealt another blow when the Co-operative Bank announced it would be closing my personal account, currently being used for SORUK transactions, on 6th July. This underlines a distressing trend of financial discrimination against organisations expressing controversial views.
Despite these challenges, we’ve managed to make significant strides in preserving human rights in the face of emerging technologies. We’ve guided and supported thousands of individuals in voicing their concerns on consultations about Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) and Digital IDs. We’ve also successfully drawn public attention to the now-scrapped Bill of Rights consultation and motivated constituents to lobby their MPs on a variety of urgent issues, such as preserving the use of cash and protecting home education. Yet, despite these victories, our struggle with financial institutions threatens to undermine both our past successes and our ability to carry out future vital work.
The current predicament raises a crucial question: in a society that values freedom of expression and peaceful protest, should financial institutions hold the power to silence voices they find controversial? There is an urgent need for transparent regulations to safeguard citizens and organisations from arbitrary account closures.
The Chancellor is now looking into the matter, offering a glimmer of hope. However, we need more than just superficial promises. We urge financial institutions and regulators to devise and implement transparent and equitable procedures. These should prevent entities from unjustly restricting the activities of organisations and individuals based on their expressed views. We hope for robust and practicable guidelines, not just tokenistic gestures.
As I look towards the uncertain future, I am strengthened by the support of our community. I invite you to join us in making this silence heard. Let’s continue to fight for our rights and ensure that our voices are heard, no matter how hard they try to ignore us.