The UK has surely left itself with the worst of both worlds by refusing Geert Wilders, the anti-Islamist Dutch MP, leave to enter the UK although two screenings of the film he was here to promote went ahead as planned.

As always happens, he and his cause have attracted far more publicity than they would have if he had been allowed to enter unhindered.

If the danger of damage to community relations, or incitement to racial or religious hatred was clear enough, that would not make it wrong to impose a ban. But what is the sense in allowing the showing of a film, to however select an audience, described by the Dutch Government as serving "no purpose other than to offend", while barring its author, who would of course be subject to prosecution if he overstepped the mark while in the UK?

Despite their description of the film, and the fact that Mr Wilders faces prosecution in the Netherlands for inciting discrimination and hatred, the Dutch regard this treatment of an MP by another EU state as "highly regrettable". It certainly does not demonstrate that the United Kingdom has a clear idea either of how to uphold the principle of freedom of speech, or of how to prevent it being abused.