The Court of Appeal has granted permission to appeal a High Court decision that upheld a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) around an abortion facility in the London Borough of Ealing.
The Ealing PSPO, which took effect in April last year, imposed a censorship zone that criminalised a wide range of conduct, including prayer, peaceful protest and the offering of leaflets.
The PSPO was subject to a legal challenge shortly after coming into force in April of last year, but in July the High Court found that Ealing Council’s PSPO was lawful. However, the Court of Appeal has now agreed to hear an appeal.
Laurence Wilkinson, Legal Counsel for religious liberty group ADF International, said, ‘We welcome the Court of Appeal’s decision to review the High Court ruling on the censorship zone instituted by Ealing Council.
‘The imposition of the wide-ranging Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) was entirely disproportionate in the circumstances. In a free society, ideas should be fought with ideas, not criminal penalties.
‘Not only do local councils and the police have a broad range of existing powers to deal with any unacceptable behaviour outside of abortion centres, but evidence shows that hundreds of women have benefitted from the support offered by groups such as The Good Counsel Network outside these centres.
‘Using a PSPO to expel pro-life groups from the area is a drastic and unnecessary measure, and it violates individuals’ rights to freedom of speech and assembly’.