In this case, the Court of Appeal refused leave for a fundamentalist Christian charity, Core Issues Trust, to appeal the ban on putting offensive, homophobic advertising banners on London buses, in a spiteful response to the Stonewall advertisement pictures below.
The banners would have implied that homosexuality is a condition which can be cured and that there is cause for pride in not being gay (as though there is cause for shame in not being straight). The campaign had been pulled at the last minute following an intervention by the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson.
Core Issues Trust was appealing an earlier ruling by the High Court that Boris Johnson had not acted unlawfully by intervening to get the advertisement banned by Transport for London. The grounds given for the appeal had been the evidence that Boris Johnson had lied about his role in the affair but, as Lord Justice Sullivan had said, a politician lying is actually not unlawful and had no bearing on the lawfulness of the ban.
The defeated charity later released a statement headed Truth is stranger than it used to be: when 'puffing' isn't lying, which implied that Lord Justice Sullivan had ruled that Johnson had not lied.
In fact, this is itself a lie.
Lord Justice Sullivan acknowledged that Johnson had been untruthful but pointed out that 'puffing' to claim credit is not unlawful and thus had no bearing on the lawfulness of the ban. The argument had focussed on the use of the word 'instructed' by Johnson but the legal issue had had nothing to do with whether Johnson had lied about his role but whether the ban had been lawful.
The statement went on:
Lord Justice Sullivan yesterday dismissed Core Issues Trust’s application to appeal, claiming that Mrs Justice Lang’s inquiry in the London Bus Case was satisfactory and appropriate.
According to Lord Justice Sullivan, Core Issues Trust is simply aggrieved at her findings. In reality, the rights of ex-gay persons have been again been trampled by establishment judges. Stonewall promoter Boris Johnson is untouchable: he can say and do what he likes, and we should all redefine the word “instructed” along with "marriage'"
The judge says that in claiming credit for the decision to ban the 2012 Core Issues Trust poster, Boris Johnson had been untruthful. But remarkably the judge went on to say that Mr Johnson’s "puffing to take credit for the decision" was not unlawful.
The Mayor’s media chief, Mr Harri informed senior members of staff that the Mayor had ‘instructed’ the poster to be removed. But the judge says that this use of language needed to be placed in the context of the event and did not mean what most people assume “instructed” means.
Lord Justice Sullivan dismissed the fact that emails were not preserved and the suggestion that relevant emails were deleted.
He was untroubled that there was no cross-examination of witnesses, neither was he concerned by the fact that the Witness Statement contradicted the contemporaneous documentation.
He appeared unconcerned that two earlier witnesses statements had omitted to mention an alleged conversation (between Mr Harri and TfL’s Mr Everitt) that was later claimed to be crucial in the decision making process to ban the Ad (just before the Guardian’s announcement of the decision). He dismissed any suggestion that this stark inconsistency with previous statements undermined the credibility of the witnesses.
The Court of Appeal is apparently entitled to rely on the ‘say so’ of an interested party without testing by cross-examination and in the face of serious credibility issues being raised.
At this point, it appears that the courts are happy that it is lawful to allow public figures such as Boris Johnson to use the media to claim that he took a decision when in fact he did not – in full view of the officials of Transport for London and the Greater London Authority.
Apparently, this Christian charity which purports to be defending core Christian values, sees nothing wrong with bearing false witness in defence of its assumed right to persecute minorities.
To add to the impression that the important issue for Core Issues Trust is not to deal with truth but to cry persecution and seek martyrdom, the statement went on:
Commenting on the case, Dr Mike Davidson, Director of Cores Issues Trust, said:
“Neither myself nor the Trust is in a position to pay the exorbitant costs of the Queen’s Counsel, barristers and solicitors which Transport for London has felt able to fund so freely from the public purse.
“The case has shown clearly that British officialdom has no regard for the rights of ordinary men and women whose identity is “ex-gay” and whose practice is to leave their homosexual past.
We will not be intimidated or silenced. We shall continue to exercise our right freely to say that homosexual practices are unsafe for individuals, for society, and offensive to our creator God, the Lord Jesus Christ. We will continue to teach these truths and to support the continual and growing stream of individuals now abandoned by church, state and mental health bodies who express through their lives an unpopular and offensive view clearly intolerant to the British establishment.”
The Trust will seek legal advice on the way forward to continue its work and witness.
Clearly, this charity is claiming to know the mind of their god and using that as the basis of their claim for a privileged right to abuse whomsoever they wish and impose their bigotry on the rest of us.
The question now is should an obviously homophobic hate group, which is using piety as an excuse for its antisocial, divisive behaviour and using donation to pursue its hate campaign against a minority, be allowed to retain its charitable status?
Maybe it's time to review the definition of 'charity' so far as it relates to religions, especially since religions are now supported by only a small minority of people in the UK. As they become increasingly extreme and hateful as they shed all but their most fanatical members, religions are increasingly associated with extremist, exclusive, hateful bigotry such as this in order to maintain in-group cohesion.