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High Court to decide whether Boris Johnson acted improperly in banning Christian bus advert

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Issued on behalf of Christian Legal Centre

Press Release

For Immediate Release

30 June 2014

High Court to decide whether Boris Johnson acted improperly in banning Christian bus advert

Today (30 July 2014), a High Court judge will consider whether fresh evidence from the Mayor of London’s office shows that Boris Johnson personally ordered Transport for London to ban a Christian bus advertisement, and whether he did so for an improper purpose during his re-election campaign in 2012.
 
The advert by Core Issue Trust (CIT), which attested to the fact that people can change unwanted homosexual feelings, was in response to Stonewall’s campaign, “Some people are gay. Get over it!” which had been running on London buses for several months.
 
The ban on the Christian bus adverts took place during Boris Johnson’s campaign for re-election as Mayor of London, just a day before he addressed an election rally organised by Stonewall, the gay pressure group.
 
Mrs Justice Lang upheld the ban on the CIT slogan, “Not Gay! Ex-Gay, Post-Gay and Proud. Get over it!”, at the original High Court hearing. Following the decision,  CIT submitted a Freedom of Information request which revealed emails suggesting the Mayor had personally instructed TFL to ban the adverts. One email from the Mayor’s Director of Communications at the time, Guto Harri, states that the Mayor personally ordered the Christian advertisement to be pulled. CIT took the case to the Court of Appeal which sent it back to Mrs Justice Lang to consider the new email evidence which she had not seen at the first hearing.
 
Mrs Justice Lang stated she was “not satisfied” that the Mayor had told the “full story” about the ban and ruled that, “to get to the bottom of this”, she was making an order for disclosure by Boris Johnson and TfL of all relevant documents.  These included “full and unredacted” copies of  emails, memos, internal notes, reports and any other relevant documents “sent to or from the Mayor or any person in the Mayor’s office within the Greater London Authority, relating to the decision to ban the CIT adverts”.  CIT is not satisfied that the Order has been fully complied with and believes that documents which could be crucial to the case are still being withheld.
 
The Judge also asked the Mayor and his Communications Director at the time, Guto Harri, to provide witness statements for today’s hearing. Statements from Sir Peter Hardy, Commissioner for TfL, and Richard Barnes, board member of TfL, were also required by the Judge. Other key political players have also been implicated.
 
Core Issues Trust is being supported by the Christian Legal Centre, whose CEO, Andrea Williams, says:
 
“This is suppression of free speech and expression by the political class.  Boris and his high-level team are using their power to suppress a small Christian charity.
 
“The fact that the Court of Appeal ordered this case to be reconsidered by Mrs Justice Lang is an important vindication of the rule of law.  TfL has made it hard for us to get to this point; it has been hostile and obstructive and has certainly not been a model of transparency.  TfL has continued to promote Stonewall campaigns on its transport system – a highly provocative action which shows disregard for the Court's original judgment, which held that neither Stonewall’s or Core Issues Trusts’s adverts should have been allowed. If one point of view is championed on London’s transport network, there must be room to display an opposing view. We hope the Judge will recognise that this freedom was violated when the Mayor banned Core Issues Trust’s adverts.”
ENDS.
 
For further information/interview:
Garry Selfridge:  07545 696 207
Andrea Minichiello Williams:  07712 591 164
 

 

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