16th July 2012
Re: Protests outside of Marie Stopes international centres
We represent Marie Stopes International (MSI).
We have been asked to write to you in connection with the
ongoing activities of protestors affiliated with your organisation who protest
regularly outside of MSI’s centres. We have set out below our client’s concerns
in relation to such activities. Whilst MSI acknowledges your organisation’s
(and that of its members) right to protest, we strongly urge you to consider
how such protests may be conducted respectfully and without potentially
infringing the law and breaching MSI’s rights and those of its clients.
We understand that protestors have engaged in various acts
or conduct including shouted ‘Don’t
apologise just leave!’ or used
similar vocabulary at MSI’s clients, have approached clients with plastic
foetus’ asking the client to pray for the foetus, have attempted to intimidate
clients by running up to them, have handed out baby pink and blue rosary beads,
and have handed out leaflets containing graphic images. We further understand
that on occasion, where a client has stopped in response to a protestor, the
client has been surrounded by protestors who have tried to ‘cuddle’ the client.
These activities have caused some of MSI’s clients immense distress. We further
understand that at least one client was physically injured whilst being pursued
by a protestor.
Section 3A of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 (the
“Act”) provides for a civil right of action against harassment and allows one
to seek injunctive relief. Under the Act, a person must not pursue a course of
conduct which amounts to harassment of another and which he/she knows or ought
ot know amounts to harassment of the other. ‘Harassment’ includes a conduct
which causes distress. Our client is therefore concerned that some of your
activities may be in breach of the Act.
and leaving MSI’s centres. Given that MSI’s clients state their names via the
intercom system upon entering the centre which can be heard by protestors
located by the entrance, the filming of MSI’s clients amounts to processing of
personal data. This activity can cause distress to MSI’s clients.
Section 10 of the Data Protection Act 1998 provides for a
right to prevent processing of personal data that causes distress. The
continued filming of MSI’s clients could force our client to seek a court order
to prevent a breach of the data protection rights of MSI’s clients.
protestors from your organisation distribute a leaflet entitled. “Pregnant...Worried?”
(the “leaflet”) which contains factually incorrect and/or misleading
information. The Leaflet claims that abortion can result in breast cancer,
disruption of the menstrual cycle and the inability to become pregnant in the
future. These claims are wholly unfounded. Likewise, the possible psychological
implications of abortion set out in the leaflet are also misleading.
MSI is entitled to make a complaint to the Advertising
Standards Authority on the basis that the information published in the leaflet
regarding the physical and psychological implications of abortion is
misleading, unsubstantiated and in some circumstances untrue.
We understand that your organisation has a right to protest
and our client recognises this right. The purpose of this letter is to inform
you of MSI’s concerns. Should your organisation or its members continue to
engage in activities which MSI considers unlawful, our client reserves the
right to seek all remedies as may be necessary, including injunctive relief.
Kirkland & Ellis International LLP