Leaked documents spark furious backlash from groups who fear freedom of expression could be suppressed

Government officials have drawn up deeply controversial proposals to broaden the definition of extremism to include anyone who “undermines” the country’s institutions and its values, according to documents seen by the Observer.

The new definition, prepared by civil servants working for cabinet minister Michael Gove, is fiercely opposed by a cohort of officials who fear legitimate groups and individuals will be branded extremists.

The proposals have provoked a furious response from civil rights groups with some warning it risks “criminalising dissent”, and would significantly suppress freedom of expression.

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