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Thursday, 12 December, 2002, 11:32 GMT
Morals campaigner wins damages
High Court
The case was heard at the High Court
Morals campaigner Victoria Gillick has won an apology and 5,000 damages in a libel case against a teenage sexual health advice charity.

Mrs Gillick claimed the Brook charity, which offers advice on contraception and sexual health, libelled her in a 1996 fact sheet 'Teenage Conceptions: Statistics and Trends'.

In it, the charity alleged Mrs Gillick's 1983 challenge against the legality of government guidelines on contraception advice for under 16s, was one of the reasons for a rise in teenage conceptions during the 1980s

The mother of 10 from Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, claimed Brook Advisory Centres and their former chief executive Dr Margaret Jones libelled her in the fact-sheet.

Brook have never accepted that the fact sheet does libel Mrs Gillick in the way she alleges

Tamsin Allen, Brook
Mrs Gillick was challenging a previous High Court judgement which found in Brook's favour.

She said after the appeal hearing: "The damages have always been irrelevant.

"I'm delighted and relieved that not only has my name been cleared but the truth has been allowed to come out."

'Moral blame'

Mrs Gillick's solicitor-advocate David Price told Mr Justice Eady at the High Court: "This statement caused Mrs Gillick considerable concern and distress.

"She understood the words to mean that, by her court action, she was morally responsible for the rise in teenage conception.

"Mrs Gillick denies that her legal action led to an increase in teenage conception let alone that she could bear any moral blame for such a rise."

Brook agreed to apologise for the words in the fact sheet, he said.

"They acknowledge unreservedly that any suggestion that Mrs Gillick bore a moral responsibility for an increase in pregnancies among 15-19 year olds during the 1980s is without foundation and apologise to Mrs Gillick for this distress caused to her."

Tamsin Allen, for Brook, which has also agreed to pay Mrs Gillick's legal costs bills, said it had not intended to allege Mrs Gillick was morally responsible for an increase in pregnancies, and "regretted" the fact sheet could be interpreted in that way.

She said: "Brook have never accepted that the fact sheet does libel Mrs Gillick in the way she alleges and the parties have agreed to disagree on that issue."

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13 Mar 02 | England
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