On Saturday I posted about the High Court ruling in the ‘Ex-gay bus adverts’ case.
My dad pointed out that I had misrepresented some of the facts. I apologise. Apparently the judge did consider both adverts to be offensive and mentioned as much. Naturally, she could only rule on the case that was brought, though.
I can’t improve on how Dad said it, so here it is:
Mrs Justice Lang said that the bus adverts from the British Humanist Association and Stonewall were ‘highly offensive’ and ruled that they breached Transport for London’s advertising policy. She also ruled that the advert placed by the Core Issues Trust, fell foul of the policy too and for that reason was legitimately barred by Transport for London.
So the ruling was that both adverts should have been banned. However, as I understand it, the action taken by Core Issues Trust was not about the rights or wrongs of the advert but whether there had been ‘an interference with the right to freedom of expression by a public body’ i.e. Transport for London. This is where the matter gets really convoluted. TfL has a policy. The ads. have not been shown to break any laws but they have breached the policy of the provider of the space where they were posted. TfL therefore were bound by their own rules to ban both ads. Failing to ban the first one did not give them the right to ignore their policy for the second one.
Mrs Justice Lang considered that the complaint against TfL was of such fundamental importance that she has given leave for Core Issues Trust to appeal.
The question that must now be considered is whether a public body has the right to implement policies that infringe on the rights of others. It seems to me that if the appeal goes against TfL it will mean that the provider of advertising space will be unable to regulate what is displayed, so that something that is clearly offensive (but not necessarily illegal) would have to be permitted until a complaint is made to, and upheld by, the Courts.
Watch this space!