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Outcome of Animal Defenders International banned ad appeal could change the laws on political advertising


By Jennifer Faull, Deputy Editor

April 21, 2013 | 2 min read

The result of Animal Defenders International’s appeal against a banned TV campaign, which highlighted the conditions of caged primates, could result in a lift of Britain’s ban on political advertising, according to a report from the Independent.

Animal Defenders International was unable to run its adverts as it was considered a political group, rather than a charity. However, it claimed this was a breach of its right to freedom of speech and took the issue to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in a bid to get the decision overturned.

The final ruling, which will take place tomorrow, could impact the laws on political advertising, and ultimately allow all groups and parties to participate in TV campaigns.

Speaking to the Independent, Jacob Rowbottom, a fellow in constitutional law at University College, Oxford, said: "It seems very likely that they will find the complete blanket ban on paid political advertising to violate [freedom of expression]."

A spokesperson from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport however has said that the ban is necessary: "The ban has wide support and has helped sustain the balance of views which is at the heart of British broadcasting – and ensures that advertising broadcast into our homes is not determined by those who have the deepest pockets."

Similarly, Sir Edward Garnier, former solicitor general, said: "We would be uncomfortable in England filling up our screens with aggressive political campaign advertising. You could say it's a restriction of free speech, but it's one the British are prepared to tolerate to keep political advertising off their screens."

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