'Life' claim Lambeth Council breached their right to freedom of expression

The pro-life charity ‘Life’ will begin legal action against Lambeth Council following the sudden removal of their stall at the Lambeth Country Show.

In a press release published on Monday, Life have accused Lambeth Council of “defamation, breach of contract and interference with our right to freedom of expression,” alleging that the dismantling of their stall by show organisers was a violation of a contract between Life and the festival’s organisers that had been made in April.

According to the group, the stall had been removed without forewarning as a result of complaints made by some members of the public about a selection of foetal models that Life had placed on display. They have also made a separate allegation that a series of comments made by a Lambeth councillor regarding the incident had been deliberately inaccurate so as to retroactively justify their removal.

“Following our ejection, the council and one of its councillors made false and misleading statements about Life’s presence at the show. They have now accepted that those statements were inaccurate and suggested that we were ejected from the show because of our use of foetal models on the stall.”

“Lambeth Council has been informed of prospective claims against it for libel and the unlawful interference with Life’s right to freedom of expression contrary to Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights,” adding that, “Public Authorities must comply with by virtue of Section 6 (1) of the Human Right’s Act 1998.”

Ed Davie, the Labour councillor referenced by Life in their letter, posted several comments on Twitter in the immediate aftermath of the incident in which he cast doubt on Life’s claims, instead laying the blame for their removal on Life themselves, stating that their application for a stall had been “booked using inaccurate information.”

As a result, claimed Cllr Davie, the pro-life group’s stall “wasn’t offically allowed,” and that, therefore, they were, “not on the list of approved exhibitors.”

Lambeth Country Show’s codes and terms of conduct, as set out on their website, state that “Exhibitors and their staff must carry out business and conduct themselves in a manner not objectionable to other Exhibitors, visitors or the Organisers. In the event of this regulation not being observed, the Organisers shall be entitled forthwith to terminate the Exhibitor’s license to occupy the stand.”

Life’s Director of Education, Anne Scanlan, writing about the group’s eviction in their press release, responded that the stall had been closed because “it showed educational models of the unborn baby.”

“The actions of Lambeth Council represent a grave injustice which must be challenged if we are to continue to defend the right to life of the unborn child and promote support for the thousands of women who need our help in crisis pregnancies.”

“This is what women want and deserve and we will continue to stand with them as we have done for 48 Years.”