This legal case concerned a wheelchair user – Doug Paulley – who attempted to board a bus owned by FirstGroup plc who operated a ‘first come, first served’ policy in relation to the wheelchair space on its buses.
Doug was stopped from boarding a bus in 2012 when a woman, who had a sleeping baby in a pushchair, refused to move out of the designated area when asked by the bus driver. He originally won his case at Leeds County Court in 2013, but FirstGroup successfully appealed to the Court of Appeal in 2014. Thereafter, Doug took his case to the Supreme Court in 2016 and their decision was eventually handed down in January 2017. They ruled that bus companies must end their ‘first come first served’ policies and do more to cater for wheelchair users. Drivers should take further steps to pressurise non-wheelchair users to vacate wheelchair spaces if they are needed, and have clear policies to give training to drivers to help them remove barriers which wheelchair users face. The twitterati named it the #PaulleyPrinciple
Doug was supported at the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court by the Equality and Human Rights Commission who regarded it as the most significant case since the introduction of the Equality Act 2010.
How we helped
Scala was involved in the PR and media management throughout the 5 year duration of the case. From the original County Court decision – where the case made headline local news; to the Supreme Court where we ‘live tweeted’ from inside the Court room.
We helped to secure national coverage across all media platforms, TV, radio, newspapers and on-line media outlets. We accompanied Doug to many TV and radio interviews including several at BBC Broadcasting House to brief him and agree the right angle to take with the press so as not to jeopardise the outcome of the case.
Scala also looked after the social media coverage from Doug’s lawyers twitter account (the now defunct Unity Law) and drafted media releases and emailed updates to interested parties to ensure they were well informed at every stage of the case.
What Doug says about us!
“I honestly don’t believe that the First Bus case would have happened without the press campaign. Natalie Rodgers from Scala was absolutely superb and she worked tirelessly to secure the coverage that we did. In practical terms, the excellent press work was a significant factor in the Supreme Court’s PTA and in the EHRC agreeing to fund appeals.
Natalie supported me on both a personal and professional level for the entire 5 years that the case ran. At times the press interest in me personally was overwhelming, however with her support we always worked out a solution to ensure we got excellent media coverage of the case.
What shouldn’t be forgotten is that this wasn’t simply coverage of a ground-breaking legal case, the publicity prompted a debate and firmly placed in the spotlight the issues faced but thousands of wheelchair users. I think that this was more important than the legal result in terms of achieving disabled people’s rights.”