In May, Anons in Birmingham were fined for leafletting within a restricted zone in the city centre. The council’s own advice regarding the leafletting restriction is as follows:

Free Literature Consent Schemes seek to control the litter problem created by the distribution and subsequent discarding of newspapers, documents, cards, leaflets, pamphlets, stickers and other ‘free’ literature. The image on this page shows the potential impact discarded ‘free’ literature can have on our streets.

So far the City Council has declared three Free Literature Consent Areas which covers the retail areas of the City Centre, Hurst Street and Digbeth areas.

Persons wishing to distribute free literature within these areas need to apply for consent, pay a consent fee and are subject to various conditions to that consent.


The schemes do not apply to the distribution of free printed matter;

• by or on behalf of a charity within the meaning of the Charities Act 1993,
• where the distribution is for political purposes or for the purpose of a religion or belief.

The Anons in question objected to the fine on the grounds that their leaflets were not commercial and met the second exemption above – for the purposes of a belief (namely, that Scientology is a dangerous cult.)

Today, the situation was declared resolved:

Fines have been dropped. Those of us that had been fined recieved a letter off the council this morning, which basically states that after they checked everything with their legal team, they are satisfied that we are in actual fact covered by the exemptions, as we had originally said.