- Human rights organisations concerned about implications of UK Court of Appeal decision
- Censorship zone around abortion facility upheld, appeal to Supreme Court will follow
LONDON (21 August 2019) – Today, the Court of Appeal of England and Wales dismissed the appeal of Alina Dulgheriu. She had challenged a High Court decision upholding a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) around an abortion facility in the London Borough of Ealing. It criminalises activities including silent prayer and offers of help. The Romanian born mother challenged the Order shortly after its introduction in April 2018. She herself had received help from a now-banned group and argued that the Order violates the fundamental rights to freedom of speech and assembly. Ms. Dulgheriu will now appeal to the Supreme Court.
“The Court of Appeal has failed to give due weight to the human rights violations caused by the Ealing Public Spaces Protection Order. The disproportionate and wide-ranging measure taken by Ealing Council poses a serious threat to freedom of speech and assembly. It sets a negative precedent and outlaws even the most compassionate offer of assistance.
The Court of Appeal has failed to give due weight to the human rights violations caused by the Ealing Public Spaces Protection Order. The disproportionate and wide-ranging measure taken by Ealing Council poses a serious threat to freedom of speech and assembly.
Free societies must discuss controversial ideas rather than simply criminalising them. Evidence shows that hundreds of women – like Alina – have accepted the help offered by peaceful pro-life groups outside abortion facilities,” said Laurence Wilkinson, Legal Counsel for ADF International in London.
Threat to freedom of speech and assembly
Alina Dulgheriu, a local mother, challenged Ealing Council’s PSPO at the UK High Court shortly after it came into force in 2018. Ms Dulgheriu had felt able to give birth to her daughter after receiving support outside of an abortion facility. Although the High Court found that fundamental rights had been impacted by the implementation of the censorship zone, it ultimately decided the PSPO was justified and ordered Ms. Dulgheriu to pay Ealing Council’s legal costs. The Court of Appeal agreed to review the High Court’s findings. Today, it dismissed Alina’s appeal and rejected the arguments presented by the third party intervener Liberty, who argued in favour the fundamental rights to freedom of speech and assembly.
“Today’s decision provided an opportunity for the Court of Appeal to reaffirm the fundamental right to speech and assembly. Instead, it upheld Ealing’s decision to eradicate offers of help in the name of ‘choice.’ This PSPO ignores the real experience of hundreds of women – like Alina – and is entirely disproportionate. It is a violation of the rights to freedom of speech and assembly, the importance of which has been so often reiterated by the European Court of Human Rights, especially when it comes to controversial topics like abortion,” said Robert Clarke, Director of European Advocacy for ADF International.
Find the Court of Appeal’s judgment here.