THE Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, did not act improperly to
support his re-election campaign by banning an advertisement
promoting the post-gay organisation the Core Issues Trust, the High
Court has ruled.
The advertisement - which read "Not gay! Ex-gay, post-gay and
proud. Get over it!" - had been booked to run on 25 buses between
16 and 29 April 2012, but was blocked after The Guardian
ran a story about the adverts.
Mrs Justice Lang decided that the decision to ban the
advertisements was taken by Transport for London (TfL) in
accordance with its advertising policy rather than by the Mayor,
although the Mayor's spokesman, Guto Harri, had told The
Guardian and other media that Mr Johnson had instructed the
adverts to be pulled.
It is the second time that Mrs Justice Lang has had to consider
the case. In March last year, she ruled that TfL acted lawfully in
banning the advertisement, because it had a policy of refusing
advertisements "which were controversial or likely to cause
widespread or serious offence or which were inconsistent with TfL's
obligations under the Equality Act 2010".
But she said at the time that it would have been unlawful if the
advert had been pulled by Mr Johnson to support his re-election
campaign, because the advertisements would then have been rejected
for an "improper purpose". There was no evidence that this had
The Court of Appeal ordered a fresh hearing after responses to
requests under the Freedom of Information Act revealed internal
emails claiming that the decision had been taken by Mr Johnson
rather than TfL.
The judge ruled that, although Mr Johnson had made his views
known to TfL, the decision to ban the advertisements was taken by
TfL itself; and that the false impression given to The
Guardian by Mr Harri was done "to present Mr Johnson . . . in
the most favourable light possible". She said that the story given
to The Guardian was a "tale" that was "not strictly
accurate", but that it had not been done with the intention of
"advancing Mr Johnson's re-election".
The judge said that, although Mr Johnson was due to speak at a
hustings organised by the gay-rights organisation Stonewall the day
after the decision had been taken, he was also due to address
hustings organised by the Evangelical Alliance and London Church
Leaders; and by Black Britain Decides - a coalition including Black
Church leaders - within the next week.
Andrea Minichiello Williams, the chief executive officer of the
Christian Legal Centre, which had supported the Core Issues Trust
in its application for judicial review, described the judgment as
"another spectacular display of the establishment's capitulating to
the politically correct".
On Wednesday, Mr Johnson announced that he would stand in the
2015 General Election while continuing to serve as Mayor.