Defence counsel for the councils concerned called this legal action “misconceived”, brought because JHRW “wants to stop local authorities debating Israel’s actions,” and argued that the councils“were exercising their right to freedom of expression protected by both the common law and Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.”
.Yesterday, 28 June, Lord Justice Simon, ruled at the High Court in London that however, said that the councils had nothing unlawful. (If so-minded, you can read the entire ruling, in all its legalese, here).
The JHRW intends to appeal the judge's decision:
Needless to say, the BDS crowd (including War on Want) are cock-a-hoop at the judge's decision. As gleefully reported here:
'....Rob Stewart, Leader of Swansea Council described the decision as “a victory for freedom of expression and the rights of elected councillors to debate and speak about issues of public interest through notices of motion.”
Stewart added: “It was a difficult decision to go to court on this matter. However, given that this was an issue about the democratic rights of councillors to speak on matters of public interest, we believed there was no other option than to defend that fundamental right in court.”
According to the Swansea Council leader, “as part of the court’s judgment costs have been awarded to the Council and, on behalf of the council taxpayers of Swansea, we will now be seeking to recover them from the applicants.”
Leicester mayor Sir Peter Soulsby, meanwhile, said: “This judgement confirms that councillors have the right to shine a spotlight on a legitimate area of public debate and to discuss issues that are of concern to their electorate.”
Labour councillor Mohammed Dawood, who proposed the motion, said: “I understand the organisation has the right to appeal but I am very pleased with the result. As a council we have a right to express an opinion and I feel that is what was being questioned.”
Responding to the ruling, War on Want said it was “pleased that the court has rejected attacks on local councils standing up for Palestinians.”
Ryvka Barnard, Senior Campaigner on Militarism and Security at the charity, added that “attempts to stifle grassroots solidarity with Palestinians will not work. We are confident that this ruling will give confidence to more councils to stand up for justice.”....'Gwynned Council's leader yet.