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London council pays damages to pro-life charity

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

Lambeth Council removed Life's stall from a show in July last year

A London council has agreed to pay damages to pro-life charity Life after removing its stall from a show.

Life announced in August that it was taking legal action against Lambeth Borough Council for “defamation, breach of contract and interference with our right to freedom of expression,” after its stall at the Lambeth Country Show was dismantled without warning in July 2018.

Lambeth councillor Ed Davie alleged that the stall “wasn’t officially allowed” and that it had been booked “using inaccurate information”. The council then repeated the latter claim from its official Twitter account.

Life contested the claims, producing material showing it was on a list of approved exhibitors and had not provided inaccurate information. They said the dismantling of the stall by show organisers was a violation of a contract between Life and the festival’s organisers that had been made in April.

The council later apologised, tweeting in October: “On 22 July 2018, we tweeted that Life booked a stall at our County Show using inaccurate information. We accept that was incorrect and would like to apologise to Life.”

Liz Parsons, Life’s Head of Advocacy, said: “Lambeth’s agreement to settle this matter through a payment of damages is a victory for common sense and freedom of expression.

“In a climate where the prolife voice is being shut down by local authorities across the country, we want to be clear that we are going nowhere.

“For almost five decades we have stood firm in our provision of support for women and advocacy for the life of the unborn.

“The stall at Lambeth sought to educate people about the unborn baby and advertise our care services for pregnant women, including those who are homeless or in need of emotional and practical support.

“We must, and will challenge any organisation which tries in any way to impede this important work.”