London Bus Case
March 8, 2013

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A Timeline for the Bus Case

• In March 2013, the High Court ruled that TfL had applied its policy “inconsistently” and “partially” when it barred the Trust’s bus adverts but permitted those of Stonewall to run. Passing the ruling, Mrs Justice Lang upheld the ban on the Trust’s advert but concluded that TfL’s decision-making process was “procedurally unfair”, “in breach of its own procedures” and “demonstrated a failure to consider the relevant issues”.

• Following the decision, the Trust submitted a Freedom of Information request which revealed emails suggesting the Mayor had personally instructed TFL to ban the adverts. One letter from the Mayor stated ‘I instructed that [the ad] be immediately stopped’. Emails originating from senior staff within the Mayor’s Office and Transport for London (TfL) read ‘Boris has just instructed TfL to pull the adverts’, ‘The Mayor’s intervention is coming through strongly’ and ‘The mayor immediately put the wheels into motion to halt the campaign after being alerted to the plans by the Guardian’. The Trust took the case to the Court of Appeal which sent it back to Mrs Justice Lang in January 2014 to consider the new email evidence which she had not seen at the first hearing.

• Despite the evidence, Mrs Justice Lang ruled in July 2014 that Boris Johnson had not ordered the Trust’s adverts to be pulled. Remarkably, Boris Johnson denied banning the adverts in a signed witness statement to the High Court, despite taking personal credit in the media for doing so at the time. Lawyers for Boris Johnson argued that when the Mayor had used the word ‘instruct’ he was merely expressing a point of view. Mrs Justice Lang concluded in her judgment that “the dispute at the hearing about the correct meaning of the word ‘instruction’ was in danger of becoming a debate about semantics.”

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