High Court judgement alters plain English, suppresses free speech

Today’s blogging plans are put aside to alert readers to a development in suppressing freedom of speech:

Yesterday a British High Court judge disregarded impartiality and bowed the knee to ‘political correctness’. This was over an advert on a London bus and a responding ‘like-for-like’ advert which got banned by Boris Johnson, Mayor of London.

All law-abiding citizens should be concerned over the mayor’s honesty and his party’s line becoming highly questionable. This needs logging in our minds in case of his future bid for leadership in the Conservative Party.

It reminds me of prophetic words brought in June on ‘Justice and Children’, especially the reference to the ‘judiciary’,

Scandals will be exposed, even within social services, education, the judiciary and the police. There will be nowhere to hide, even amongst the most wealthy and influential.

Later, I covered developments which corroborated the accuracy of this word. So maybe we have yet another fulfillment of that prophecy, but check it out and decide for yourself after this outline:

The charity Core Issues Trust and Anglican Mainstream’s bus ad was banned at the last minute following intervention by the Mayor. The ad, “Not Gay. Post Gay. Ex-Gay and proud. Get over it!” was a mirror response to the one already being run by LGBT lobby group Stonewall, which read “Some people are gay. Get over it!”

Core Issues’ advert says nothing about conversion therapy or cures for their premise is that people should be free to define themselves as they want. But their ad was banned at the 11th hour yet the Stonewall Ad was allowed to run – both then and afterwards.

Boris%20JohnsonAt the time Boris Johnson took credit for instructing Transport for London (TfL) not to display Core Issues’ advert. He not only told the media but also wrote to an MP that he’d done so. Two years later he denies to the High Court having done that.

So, is Boris a liar or not?  The Judge ruled not.

How so? Because ‘instruct’ can now mean exactly the opposite! Crazy!

Core Issues’ reaction opens as follows,

“In disallowing witnesses to be cross-examined and by ignoring both controversy about categorical notions of human sexuality (which the Royal College of Psychiatrists recently admitted are not fixed nor immutable,) and inconsistencies in Boris Johnson’s witness statements, Justice Lang has confirmed today that the British establishment is no longer a guardian of freedom of speech nor of conscience.” (Emphases added in all quotations)

Chief Executive of the Christian Legal Centre, Andrea Williams, is most forthright in her indignation,

Andrea%20360At stake here is the plain meaning of English words and whether leading public figures are allowed to wriggle out of that plain meaning when the truth that they convey suddenly becomes politically inconvenient. If we allow the meaning of words to be redefined and reconfigured at the whim of politicians how can we hope to have any political accountability? Is it any surprise that engagement with politics and trust in politicians has fallen to such a low level?

“And now we find a High Court judge unwilling to address Boris’ deliberate manipulation of meaning.  This remarkable judgment manoeuvres all over the place to avoid the plain meaning of words in order to let the Mayor off the hook….

“This is a judgment worth reading (click here).  It centres on adverts on London buses and involves words with meanings which are as clear as one of Boris’s double-deckers.  An official asks if he should “pull” an advert. He is then instructed by Boris to “pull” the advert.  Yet the judge says he was not asked to “pull” the advert. It is time for the public and independent commentators to judge the judges (and Boris). If they are incapable of seeing something as obvious as a London bus then the question is what is causing their institutional bias against plain English?  

What are the pressures on our judges that stop them being able to follow the clear meaning of words and search for truth even if it involves powerful people?  What pressures made Mrs Justice Lang decline to permit cross-examination of the Mayor or allow computer forensics to check the accuracy of his statements?

“Free speech is a precious thing. Testing the integrity of our leaders is important.  Our democracy cannot survive if our press is deliberately misled by political figures and justices don’t choose to understand the plain meaning of words This case is about free speech. This case hinges on the words people use to describe themselves.  Their self-identity.

“Mrs Justice Lang cleverly avoided deciding which version of the Mayor’s ‘truth’ was true. She explained away the contradictory versions of what he said as a mere matter of ‘semantics’. I am surprised that the Judge decided to accept Boris’s implausible claim that when he said ‘instructed’ he was not using the word as it is generally understood but instead that he was simply ‘expressing his opinion’.

“This judgment has failed to punish the London Mayor for showing privilege to Stonewall, which has continued to run its controversial bus ads defying an earlier ruling by Mrs Justice Lang that neither Stonewall nor Core Issues ads should not be allowed to run.”

“This case is an important test for democracy and freedom of expression under the rule of law and in the face of a powerful public elite. This case was a test of judicial independence and impartiality. Today that has been found to be lacking.”

“The Judge supported TfL’s and Boris Johnson’s biased decision that the terms ‘ex-gay’ and ‘post-gay’ were ‘offensive’. It is a stark example of the State prohibiting the right of people to descriptors of their choice but allowing Stonewall to celebrate the ‘gay’ descriptor. Why exactly can’t someone describe themselves as ex-gay?”

This judgment marks a dark day for freedom of expression. It demonstrates that fear of a powerful gay lobby will trump the freedom of individual expression and choiceIn most all things we must be free to have both sides heard in any debate, and must allow people the freedom to express that belief as broadly as possible, up to and including the point of giving offence to the Guardian’s 750,000 readers. That is what true freedom is and that is what democracy means.”

Read Christian Concern’s full item at Important Free Speech on Bus Ads Case… The issues and skullduggery are examined in-depth in Andrea’s Opinion, such as:

“Please let’s also be clear here; this evidence was not available to us at the first hearing before Mrs Justice Lang because TfL and the Mayor did not choose to disclose it. It was only after the first hearing, and after Freedom of Information requests that we were made aware of the incriminating emails and only upon an application to the Court of Appeal that the matter was reopened and sent back to Mrs Justice Lang.

You would have thought Mrs Justice Lang would want to thoroughly expose such gross disregard for the truth, especially as originally she had ruled that Stonewall’s adverts were offensive too, and, that despite such a ruling the Stonewall ads have continued to run until this day whilst the Core Issues ad has been censored…”

Andrea then cites more unbelievable facts and considers the reactions,

“Imagine if we’d tried to do anything similar, even at the first hearing let alone at the third. We would have been laughed out of court.  

And Mrs Justice Lang closed down any possibility of us testing the evidence by way of cross-examination. This was unfair and inefficient. As a result of not allowing cross-examination, TfL and Boris were sheltered from answering direct questions about their actions, additional witness statements had to be considered and email communication continued between the judge and the involved parties for two weeks after the case was heard in court about what statements meant.  This is no way to conduct a major freedom of speech court case.

She cites George Orwell’s 1984, and then closes,

“This decision marks a dark day for freedom; for transparency in our courts. It is a dark day for trusting the courts to do justice; to hold to account a powerful executive that promotes one ideology and suppresses another. Or, if nothing else, at least to ensure the ‘means’ are not used to justify their political ‘ends’…”

Sounds more like a gross miscarriage of justice to me. Judge for yourself…

For related material see Free speech tag, (eg. Is Britain taking a totalitarian route?)

[Photos courtesy of Christian Concern]

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