William Eichler 20 February 2019

Council apologises for evicting anti-abortion charity

Lambeth Council have paid £5,000 in damages to an anti-abortion charity after evicting its volunteers and staff from an event in the London borough last year.

Life was expelled from the Lambeth Country Show on the second day of the event in what the charity claims was an example of a “prolife voice” being “shut down” by councils.

Cllr Edward Davie wrote on Twitter at the time of the expulsion that Life was ‘not on the approved list of exhibitors’ because they had ‘booked using inaccurate information’.

Lawyers representing Life claimed these were libellous statements which amounted to a breach of contract and unlawful interference with the charity’s right to freedom of expression.

The council has agreed to settle the claim and apologise on Twitter.

A Lambeth Council spokesman said: ‘Lambeth Council and Life reached a settlement on October 12, 2018 in relation to threatened claims arising from the removal of Life’s stall from the 2018 Lambeth Country Show.

‘Lambeth agreed to pay Life £5,000 in damages, publish an apology on Twitter and has undertaken not to publish, or cause to be published, the same or similar words to those originally tweeted by the council on July 22, 2018.’

Life’s head of advocacy Liz Parsons described the council’s decision to settle as ‘a victory for common sense and freedom of expression.’

‘In a climate where the prolife voice is being shut down by local authorities across the country, we want to be clear that we are not going anywhere,’ she said.

‘For almost five decades we have stood firm in our provision of support for women and advocacy for the life of the unborn.

‘The stall at Lambeth sought to educate people about the unborn baby and advertise our care services for pregnant women, including those who are homeless or in need of emotional and practical support.

‘We must, and will challenge any organisation which tries in any way to impede this important work.’

Image: Willy Barton / Shutterstock.com.

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