Boris Johnson and his former media adviser will face a call tomorrow (10 DEC 2013) to appear before the Court of Appeal to explain new evidence about the Mayor’s involvement in banning adverts on London buses during last year’s closely fought Mayoral election campaign.
The adverts, which read: ‘Not Gay! Ex Gay, Post-Gay and Proud. Get over it!’ were submitted by the charity Core Issues Trust in response to Stonewall’s campaign ‘Some People are Gay. Get over it!’ Despite having been cleared by the regulatory body, they were suddenly banned following a leak to the Guardian newspaper. Stonewall’s adverts continued to run.
An email trail which was not disclosed by the Mayor’s office during the High Court hearing of the case was revealed following a Freedom of Information request by the Trust.
The message from Guto Harri, the Mayor’s Communications Director at the time, reads: “Boris has just instructed tfl to pull the adverts [and] I’ve briefed the guardian [who] will break that news in next half hour.”
But in the evidence to the High Court, Transport for London’s spokesman, Vernon Everitt, claimed that he had made the decision: “although the Mayor had made his views clear and I was aware of them, I made the decision.”
In her judgment Lady Justice Lang drew attention to the potential significance of missing evidence from the Mayor’s Office. She also highlighted that had Mr Johnson’s electoral prospects influenced the decision "at the expense of a proper exercise of TfL’s powers and duties, this would call into question the lawfulness of the decision." (see notes below).
Core Issues Trust will ask that Boris Johnson and Guto Harri be brought before the Court of Appeal to explain why the new evidence was not submitted to the High Court.
Dr Mike Davidson, Director of Core Issues Trust says:
“I firmly believe that had Lady Justice Lang seen the undisclosed correspondence, she would have reached a different conclusion about the Mayor’s motivation and role in banning the adverts.”
Andrea Minichiello Williams, Director of the Christian Legal Centre, says:
“This case reveals how far the political elite is prepared to go to pander to the homosexual agenda. When the Mayor of London and his most senior media adviser fail to provide crucial evidence in an email trail to the High Court, then freedom of speech is under serious threat.”
The case has also attracted an intervention by Maria Miller, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and Minister for Women and Equalities.
In her intervention, Mrs Miller, challenges a reading of the Equality Act relied upon by Mrs Justice Lang to dismiss Core Issues Trust’s case at the High Court.
Core Issues Trust will be represented in Court by Paul Diamond, Standing Counsel to the Christian Legal Centre.
Notes for Editors
Further details of email trail and judgment are available upon request
Email from Guto Harri – 12 April 2012 – 18:04
Subject: Re: anti-gay ads to appear on buses
Boris has just instructed tfl to pull the adverts
And I’ve briefed the guardian
Who will break that news in next half hour
Director of External Affairs
The Mayor of London
Extracts of High Court Judgment (22nd Mar 2013):
Paragraph 58: “…But if the motive for the decision was to advance Mr Johnson’s election campaign, at the expense of a proper exercise of TfL’s powers and duties, this would call into question the lawfulness of the decision…”
Paragraph 62: “For reasons which are not clear from the incomplete evidence before me, but might have been explained by the missing evidence from the Mayor’s Office, it appears that Mr Everitt went ahead and made the decision that the advertisement should not run about an hour later, without the benefit of the analysis of TfL’s advertising policy and past practice which he had previously asked for …”
Paragraph 63: “… Judging from the evidence, I consider the more likely reason for the haste was to avoid unwelcome criticism and publicity, both for TfL and the Mayor. The story had already been leaked to the Guardian newspaper, and hundreds of complaints had been received.”
Para 175: “TfL’s decision-making process was procedurally unfair, in breach of its own procedures, and demonstrated a failure to consider the relevant issues.”