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Christian radio station says freedom of speech under attack

CHURCH CONGREGATION: Christian Radio is unhappy about a court ruling banning one of its adverts (PA)

A LEADING radio station for Christian listeners has gone on the offensive after it was banned by the Court of Appeal from broadcasting an advertisement calling on people to report incidents of discrimination in the workplace involving their faith.

Premier Christian Radio, which claims to be “Britain’s biggest Christian broadcaster”, has taken a full page advert in today’s Telegraph newspaper in protest of the court’s ruling.

The legal decision to ban the advert calling on listeners to share experiences of marginalisation at work was upheld yesterday (Nov 19).

Speaking about the ruling, the station’s chief executive Peter Kerridge said: “It was not only a bad day for freedom of speech for Christians, it was also a bad day for democracy in general, and a very bad day at the office for the Master of the Rolls.”

When ruling the Christian Radio advert unlawful at the ruling, Master of the Rolls Lord Dyson said it was “directed to the political end of making a fairer society by reducing or eliminating the marginalisation of Christians in the workplace”, which breaches broadcasting legislation.

In reaction, Kerridge said: “This would suggest that any radio advertisement calling for data to inform public debate to help a fairer society would also be banned.

“But it raises the question of whether Parliament intended a blanket ban on radio adverts for surveys.”

The radio chief added: “The wording of the advert did not seek to achieve a political end, it had no political message and there was no attempt to influence the listener to a particular viewpoint, so there appears to be no good reason to ban it.

“The public interest cannot be best served by preventing people from gaining information and we believe that such a ban represents an attack on freedom of speech for everyone.

“Naturally we are disappointed with the judgement but will now consider further options which may be available to us with our legal representatives.”

The station’s advert taken out in today’s Telegraph says: “Christians have been banned for giving their opinion. Yours could be next.”

It also reproduces the banned copy of the advert under a sub heading that asks: “Would you have banned this advert?”

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