Transport for London (TFL) has agreed to reconsider an application for advertising space from the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) after a threat of legal action on our behalf by the Public Interest Law Centre (PILC).
We made the request for advertising space on London’s public transport network in late 2021.
The advert in question depicts a nuclear weapon broken in two by CND’s famous peace symbol. It asks the question: ‘Why are we getting more nuclear weapons […] when we could be investing in healthcare, renewable energy, education [?]’
TFL initially asked to see copies of the advert due to concerns about the ‘political nature’ of the campaign. After we complied, we were informed that the advert could not be carried because it ‘promotes a party political cause or electioneering’.
We were later informed that TFL’s advertising policy prohibited ‘any party political messages’, with TFL claiming that ‘this copy conveys such message [sic]’.
On behalf of CND, PILC argued that the advertisement was not party political and that TFL’s refusal to carry it was potentially in breach of our right to free expression under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
In March 2022 TFL acknowledged that the original decision, taken by its outsourced provider Global, was incorrect and that the proposed advert was not party political in nature. We have been invited to resubmit the advert for consideration.
Kate Hudson, General Secretary of CND, said: “This is an important victory in the defence of free expression. Suggesting that tax payers’ money should be spent on healthcare rather than weapons of mass destruction is hardly a message that should be censored. Public discussion and information are vital to our democracy – and we will do our very best to defend it.”
Paul Heron, senior solicitor at PILC, said: “The advert from CND should never have been rejected in the first place. Whilst it carried a very clear message that argued for welfare not nuclear weapons, it was not party political and it conveyed a message that would be likely to win mass support.”