Index on Censorship is deeply concerned that the adoption of a “safe zone” around an abortion clinic in Ealing sets a dangerous precedent that could have far-reaching impacts on the right to protest and freedom of expression.
There are alternative legal remedies already on the books that can be used to police harassing and intimidating behaviour, as Ealing’s own options document pointed out.
The use of buffer zones to prevent protests could be used against all forms of speech – including those that wish to protest on environmental or political issues, for example.
As we wrote in our letter to the leader of the Ealing Council in March, the safe zones were potentially unlawful and disproportionate.
March 28 2018
Ealing W5 2HL
We have been advised by our lawyer that your consultation on exclusion zones was not open to non residents of the borough. But as a free speech organisation, we believe this has wider legal implications and should be open to a wider consultation.
We are, therefore, addressing this submission and letter to you personally.
Index would point out that “the proposal is unlawful on the grounds and is disproportionate to its purpose”.
CEO, Index on Censorship