Lobby groups lose political ads battle

Pressure groups have failed in a long-running bid to win greater freedom to run TV and radio ads for "political" causes.

In a test case, the House of Lords on Wednesday dismissed a challenge by the animal rights group Animal Defenders International to the Government's ban on broadcast ads by groups whose aims are wholly or mainly political.

A TV ad featuring Alexei Sayle for ADI's "My Mate's a Primate" campaign against primates being used in circuses, films, TV programmes and advertising, was banned by the BACC in 2005.

ADI argued that the wide-ranging ban under the 2003 Communications Act was not compatible with the freedom of expression provisions of human rights laws.

But five Law Lords unanimously dismissed ADI's appeal against a High Court ruling last year upholding the ban. The Lords ruled that the ban on political ads, aimed mainly at political parties, is "necessary in a democratic society" and therefore in line with the European Convention on Human Rights.