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High Court throws out Boris Johnson legal claim from Christian group in anti-gay ad row

By Angela Haggerty | Reporter

July 30, 2014 | 4 min read

The High Court has dismissed a case brought forward by Christian campaign group Core Issues Trust (CIT) over anti-gay adverts that were pulled from buses by Transport for London in 2012.

Pulled: The ad was created in response to this Stonewall campaign

The long running saga involved adverts that stated “Not Gay! Ex-Gay, Post-Gay and Proud. Get over it!” in response to LGBT charity Stonewall’s ‘Some people are gay, Get over it” advertising campaign.

The case was brought forward following earlier court hearings that ruled that TfL had not acted unlawfully in refusing to display the ads after CIT uncovered email conversations between transport officials and the London Mayor’s office through a Freedom of Information request.

CIT argued that the correspondence was evidence of a “decisive intervention” by London Mayor Boris Johnson in order to make electoral gain through pulling the controversial ads.

However, the court dismissed the case, and stated in its ruling: “Mr Johnson was the chair of the board of TfL and, in his capacity as Mayor, he had statutory power to issue written instructions or directions to TfL. He did not issue either a written or verbal instruction or direction to TfL on this occasion.

“TfL made the decision not to run the advertisements. Prior to making that decision, Mr Everitt of TfL [Vernon Everitt, TfL managing director for marketing and communications] requested the views of the Mayor's office and Mr Johnson communicated a strongly-expressed opinion that the advertisements were offensive and should not appear on London buses. Mr Everitt of TfL was strongly influenced by Mr Johnson's opinion when he made the decision not to run the advertisements.”

However, Mrs Justice Lang concluded: “Mr Johnson was not motivated by an improper purpose, namely, to advance his Mayoral election campaign.”

The decision to pull the posters courted controversy and TfL faced accusations of censorship.

However, TfL said the decision was taken because the campaign was “likely to cause widespread offence to members of the public”.

In response to the latest ruling, Dr Mike Davidson of the CIT said: “Our advert simply mirrored Stonewall’s in attesting that some individuals have left homosexuality and no longer identify as ‘gay’ despite once having done so. But this is an intolerable position for those bent on refusing dissention in this area, and for those courting their vote.”

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