News Analysis

The most overlooked story of the week: Council agrees to pay damages to pro-life group

Life's stall at the Lambeth Country Show (courtesy of Life)

What happened?

A London council has agreed to pay £5,000 damages to a pro-life charity. Last year, the Life charity was expelled from a fair run by Lambeth Council. The council defended the expulsion on Twitter, claiming that Life had supplied “inaccurate information”. It has accepted that this was false and offered to settle.

Why was it under-reported?

A story in which a pro-life charity appears as the innocent victim is, needless to say, unwelcome to many editors. When councils attack pro-life organisations on other grounds, there is often ample coverage: for example, several councils have made efforts to impose “buffer zones” stopping pro-life vigils which offer women practical help and support.

Increasingly, the political conflict over unborn lives is taking place at the local level as well as in Westminster. This was a major story – which may be partly why it was ignored.

What will happen next?

Lambeth Council has agreed to publish an apology on Twitter. Life has said it will apply to join this year’s fair; the council did not reply to an inquiry from Third Sector about whether it would accept this.

Meanwhile, a legal challenge to buffer zones has made its way to the Court of Appeal. Alina Dugheriu, who was helped to keep her baby by a pro-life vigil, has challenged a ban put in place by Ealing Council. The challenge is funded by £50,000 of donations from the public. The case will be heard later this year.