Christian radio station loses legal battle over ad

A judicial review upholding a ban on a Christian radio advertisement today has been criticised.

The advert asked Christians to report their experiences of marginalisation in the workplace and was due to run last May.

However the Radio Advertising Clearance Centre (RACC) refused to approve the ad, a decision that was supported by the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport.

The RACC claimed that the advert had a political objective and therefore fell under the broadcasting prohibitions on political advertising.

The decision was challenged by Premier Christian Radio and Christianity magazine, which had coordinated the ad.

They were granted a judicial review but a high court judge ruled on Friday that the RACC had acted lawfully in banning the ad.

During the hearing in London, Mr Justice Silber ruled that there had been no breach of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects freedom of expression.

Instead, he said that the RACC's decision was "rational and lawful".

Premier’s lawyers said: “We believe the judge got it wrong. The advertisement was not a political message but a request for information which could then be used as part of the normal democratic process, where ideas and views are expressed in public discussion, contradicted, answered and debated.

"This decision has wide implications, not just for Christians, but for freedom of speech generally.”

Premier’s chief executive, Peter Kerridge, said: “Our application was dismissed because we planned to inform the public debate and help make a fairer society. The decision represents a direct threat to the democratic right to freedom of speech and we intend to continue the fight through the appeal process.

“It greatly reduces the right of ordinary people to have their say in democratic debate and, regrettably, seems to be wholly reminiscent of a totalitarian state. Surely all reasonable and decent people from all walks of life would wish to see a fairer society and to engage in a robust debate as to how that society would look?”