Animal charity requests support in ad ban battle

Animal Defenders International has called for other campaigning organisations to back its House of Lords appeal against the ban on political advertising by agreeing to share legal costs.

ADI lost its bid to overturn the ban on its My Mate's a Primate television advert on the grounds that the ban contravened the right to freedom of expression outlined in the Human Rights Act 1998.

The High Court ruled on Monday that upholding the claim could result in wealthy organisations gaining too much influence over broadcast media.

But the court granted ADI permission to leapfrog the standard appeals process and apply directly to the House of Lords for permission to appeal, bypassing the Court of Appeal.

ADI also had its costs waived after arguing the case was in the public interest.

"This is a test case that could benefit a swathe of voluntary sector organisations," said Tim Phillips, director of campaigning at ADI. "If other organisations wish to offer their support, that would be very positive."

Rosamund McCarthy, a consultant at law firm Bates, Wells & Braithwaite, argued that a change in the law need not result in some organisations gaining a disproportionate influence, because spending could be capped.

"Support for campaigning needs to be endorsed at Cabinet level," she said.

The ruling came under the Communications Act 2003. Lawyers for the ADI said this was the only law the Government had been unable to say was compatible with the Human Rights Act.

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