U.K. Animal Rights Group Fails to Overturn Ban On Political Advertising

European human rights court says banning advert by Animal Defenders International does not violate freedom of expression.


An animal rights campaign group has failed to overturn the U.K.'s ban on U.S.-style political advertising on radio and television, according to the Guardian.

By a majority decision, judges at the European court of human rights in Strasbourg have ruled that preventing the broadcast of a commercial – showing a girl in chains in a chimpanzee's cage – did not violate freedom of expression.

The case was brought by Animal Defenders International (ADI) who wanted to air an advert in 2005 entitled My Mate's a Primate. It was directed against the keeping and exhibition of primates in zoos and circuses and their use in television advertising.

The brief film juxtaposed images of a girl and then a chimpanzee in chains in an animal cage. But the Broadcast Advertising Clearance Centre refused to clear the advert, drawing attention to the political nature of ADI's objectives, which as such prohibited the broadcasting of the advert under section 321(2) of the Communications Act 2003, reported the Guardian.

The animal rights group lost its appeals in both the high court and the House of Lords before taking their case to the ECHR in Strasbourg.

In a majority decision, the court found that: "both parties maintained that they were protecting the democratic process [and] that the reviews of the ban by both parliamentary and judicial bodies had been exacting and pertinent."

The judges pointed out that "the ban only applied to advertising and the applicant NGO had access to alternative media, both broadcast and non-broadcast."