Regina (Quintavalle, Prolife Alliance) v British Broadcasting Corporation: CA 14 Mar 2002

The applicant had stood for election, and since there were a sufficient number of candidates for the ProLife Alliance, they sought a party political broadcast. The material they produced was rejected by the respondent and others, as not complying with standards of taste and decency required of all programs.
Held: It was difficult to think of a context in which the claims of free expression were more pressing. The material was indeed shocking, but was uncut and truthful. The obligation to carry the broadcast was statutory. The decision amounted to censorship. The broadcasters had not given sufficient weight to the pressing imperative of free political expression. Freedom of political speech at an election, must not be interfered with save on the most pressing grounds, and only very rarely on considerations of taste and decency alone. The decision could not stand.
Laws LJ explained: ‘The great majority [of abortions] are performed on the third of the five permitted grounds under the Abortion Act 1967 as amended: that is that the continuance of the pregnancy would involve risk, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated, of injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman. There is some evidence that many doctors maintain that the continuance of a pregnancy is always more dangerous to the physical welfare of a woman than having an abortion, a state of affairs which is said to allow a situation of de facto abortion on demand to prevail.’


Lord Justice Simon Brown, Lord Justice Laws and Lord Justice Jonathan Parker


Times 19-Mar-2002, [2002] EWCA Civ 297, [2002] 3 WLR 1080, [2002] 2 All ER 756




Broadcasting Act 1990 6(1)(a)


England and Wales

Cited by:

Appeal fromRegina v British Broadcasting Corporation ex parte Pro-life Alliance HL 15-May-2003
The Alliance was a political party seeking to air its party election broadcast. The appellant broadcasters declined to broadcast the film on the grounds that it was offensive, being a graphical discussion of the processes of abortion.
Held: . .
CitedA and B, Regina (on The Application of) v Secretary of State for Health SC 14-Jun-2017
The court was asked: ‘Was it unlawful for the Secretary of State for Health, the respondent, who had power to make provisions for the functioning of the National Health Service in England, to have failed to make a provision which would have enabled . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Elections, Media

Updated: 05 June 2022; Ref: scu.168044