Law lords support BBC over ProLife censorship claim

Anti-abortion pressure group the ProLife Alliance has failed in the final round of a censorship battle with the BBC.

ProLife claimed it was censored by the BBC’s refusal to show graphic images of aborted foetuses in a Welsh TV party political broadcast.

But the BBC won the backing of the House of Lords for its stance. By a majority of five to four, the law lords allowed the corporation’s challenge to an earlier Appeal Court decision that there had been censorship.

The law lords will give written reasons for their ruling later.

Anne Sloman, chief political adviser for the BBC, said: “We are absolutely delighted with the result. This case has gone on a long time and we were always fighting it not only on behalf of the broadcasters themselves, but on behalf of our audiences.

“This was never a case about censorship or the message of the ProLife Alliance. It was about the images they wanted to show on TV. All the broadcasters felt strongly that the laws governing what can be broadcast applied to everything broadcast.

“Political broadcasts are not exempt. Today’s decision vindicates our judgment.”

Initially, the High Court cleared the BBC of censorship claims. But the Appeal Court, in overturning that decision in favour of ProLife, delivered a hard-hitting judgment against the BBC, accusing it of “censorship”.

By Roger Pearson

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