Core Issues Trust sought judicial review of the decision by Transport for London not to allow the Trust’s advertisement to appear on its buses, on the basis that the decision had been made for the improper purpose of advancing the mayor’s electoral campaign.

R (on the application of Core Issues Trust) v Transport for London: Queen’s Bench Division, Administrative Court (London): 30 July 2014

Availability of remedy – Public authority – Claimant seeking judicial review of first defendant’s refusal to allow advertisement on its buses

The first defendant Transport for London (TfL) decided not to allow the advertisement of the claimant Christian organisation Core Issues Trust (the Trust) to appear on the outside of its buses on the basis that the wording ‘Not gay! Ex-gay, post-gay and proud. Get over it!’ was contrary to its advertising policy. The Trust sought judicial review of the decision.

The court dismissed the application on the ground that TfL had not acted unlawfully in refusing to display the advertisement and that the decision had not been made for an improper purpose, namely, to advance the second defendant mayor’s electoral campaign (see [2013] All ER (D) 237 (Mar)). The Trust’s director subsequently obtained emails which had not been in evidence at the time of the hearing. The Court of Appeal, Civil Division, remitted the matter of improper purpose for reconsideration (see [2014] All ER (D) 175 (Jan)).

The Trust submitted that the decision had been made by TfL as a result of a decisive intervention by the mayor, as he had given an instruction or had expressed his view so strongly that it had been bound to be followed by the managing director of marketing and communications at TfL, E. Further, there had been evidence that the mayor had had an ulterior motive of electoral gain.

The application would be dismissed.

It had been perfectly proper for the mayor to express his views on the issue to TfL. However, there was no doubt that the actual decision not to run with the advertisement had been made by E on behalf of TfL, although strongly influenced by the mayor’s views and wishes. E had been authorised to make the decision on behalf of TfL and no improper motive had been attributed to him.

There was no evidence to suggest that either TfL or E had had a vested interest in the outcome of the election, or had supported the mayor’s candidature in preference to that of the other main contender. Further, the mayor’s response would have been the same whether or not he had been in an election campaign. Accordingly, he had not been motivated by an improper purpose, namely, to advance his election campaign (see [111], [123], [125], [127], [143] of the judgment).

Porter v Magill, Weeks v Magill [2002] 1 All ER 465 considered.

Paul Diamond (instructed by the Core Issues Trust) for the Trust; Nigel Pleming QC and Catherine Dobson (instructed by Transport for London Legal) for the defendants.