Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Final day in High Court: Banned ad that launched a High Court case online today

Posted: 26 July 2006

Advertising industry may change forever

The controversial TV advertisement by Animal Defenders International (ADI), which uses a young actress to highlight the plight of performing primates in advertising, is released online today – and back in the High Court for its final day.

The advert was banned under Government rules on so-called political advertising, despite that the Government acknowledges that the rules breach human rights legislation.

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The advert instigated the High Court Action when ADI was told that whatever the subject matter of any advertisement they produce, their adverts would be banned out-of-hand, because of the group’s campaigning activities.

Jan Creamer, Chief Executive of ADI, said today: “The fact is that the UK Government prevents certain views from being expressed on television. It is legal for Pepsi to use a live performing chimpanzee to sell their drinks, but not for us to point out how animals like these are sourced, how they are kept and trained, before they go near a film set”.

“Multinational corporations can make any claims they like about their policy on the environment or on animal welfare, but we are not allowed to use the same medium to challenge that”.

“This is a ban on our right to free speech. Our views are banned, but the Government can spend over £200 million a year in advertising which promotes its own views and policies. The Government’s approach to this issue is nothing short of Orwellian.”

The use of performing primates, particularly apes, in the entertainment industry is widely condemned by ape experts. Yet it continues unchecked on television, and because the other side of the story is not shown, the public is prevented from making an informed decision about the use of apes in entertainment.

ADI is determined to take the case to the European Court if necessary, where a similar case from Switzerland was heard and found in favour of allowing pressure groups to advertise on TV.

The ADI case which started on Monday, may conclude as early as midday today in Court no. 3.

_____________________________ENDS _____________________________
Jan Creamer, chief executive of ADI, will be at the High Court this morning


Potential Impact of Court Case

  • If the challenge is successful, analysts indicate a massive boost in advertising expenditure would sweep the UK, as thousands of companies, lobbyists and organisations broadcast pent-up views via increasingly interactive broadcast services[1].
  • The ADI case is seen in Europe as a test case for how issue advertising will be treated under the Human Rights Convention. If non-profit groups win the right to advertise in Europe, this is expected to open up a major new source of revenue for advertisers.[2]

Government advertising spend up

  • Figures from the Central Office of information confirm that spending on advertising has more than trebled since Labour came to power in 1997, and has peaked before the two general elections. The government advertising spend for 2004/5 is £165.4 million. Yet including production fees and related advertising work the total figure comes to £203 million, within the same 12 month period.[3]

Court Case

  • ADI issued a claim for judicial review against the Department of Media Culture and Sport (DMCS), which is responsible for the Communications Act 2003 after its ‘My Mate’s a Primate’ campaign TV ad was banned by the BACC. The DMCS conceded permission for ADI to go to a full hearing.
  • ADI is asking the Court to declare that the ban on political advertising in the Act is incompatible with the right to freedom of expression under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
  • It will rely on case law from the European Court of Human Rights, which has declared a very similar ban in Switzerland to be incompatible with Article 10.
  • If successful, the Court will make a finding that the ban violates the right to freedom of expression and that the relevant provisions of the Communications Act 2003 are incompatible with the rights guaranteed by the Convention and that the will of Parliament should be overridden.
  • The next stage would be that the Government will either have to amend the legislation immediately, or face proceedings in Strasbourg which would almost certainly come to the same conclusion in which case the Government would then be obliged to take steps to remedy the violation of Article 10.
  • Ultimately the result is expected to be an amendment to the legislation so that those currently defined as political organisations (although possibly not political parties) would be entitled to use broadcast media to advertise.

My Mate’s a Primate Campaign

  • The banned TV ad was part of ADI‘s “My Mate’s a Primate” campaign launched last summer to protect primates against their use by commercial interests for entertainment (circuses, films, TV programmes & advertising), the pet trade, in experiments and as bushmeat (wildlife food) and to conserve their habitat.
  • The campaign highlighted how we are encroaching on more and more of the planet. For instance, the unprecedented clearing of African forests by logging companies has opened the way for hunters to ‘take’ over $2 billion worth of wildlife a year. This is having a devastating effect on our environment as the ‘empty forest’ syndrome in parts of Africa bears witness.
  • Primates are primarily found in tropical rainforests and play an important part in the ecosystem helping to disperse seeds and pollinate plants. To meet the demands of the global trade in endangered species nearly 40,000 primates are taken out of their habitat. Their removal upsets the balance of nature and presents a major threat to the environment.
  • For more information about Bindman & Partners contact Tamsin Allen, Partner in the Media and Public Law department at Bindman & Partners on

    Bindman & Partners was founded in 1974 by a small group of Solicitors specialising in civil liberties and the rights of the individual. These concerns have remained at the heart of the firm as it has grown to its present size of 13 Partners and 65 other staff and is widely regarded as one of the country’s leading human rights practices.

    Animal Defenders International (ADI)
    With offices in London and San Francisco, Animal Defenders International (ADI) is a major international campaigning group, lobbying to protect animals on issues such as animals in entertainment and their use in experiments; worldwide traffic in endangered species; vegetarianism; factory farming; pollution and conservation. ADI involves itself in international animal rescues as well as educational work on animals, conservation and environment. In just over a decade, ADI has become a major force for animal protection and has succeeded through its undercover investigations in securing legal protection for animals. ADI’s evidence of the torment to animals has led to campaigns and legislative action all over the world to protect them. ADI opposes violence or intimidation whether directed at humans or other animals.





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