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World News

US agency must pay £116,000 legal fees in ‘IM GOD’ licence plate case

by Press Association

A state agency in the US has been ordered to pay more than 150,000 dollars (£116,000) in legal fees for a man who won a lawsuit allowing him to put “IM GOD” on his licence plate.

A judge ruled this week that the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet must pay 150,715.50 dollars in lawyers’ fees and an additional 491.24 dollars for court costs, news outlets reported.

The ruling came in a case filed by Ben Hart, a self-identified atheist, who set out to get the Kentucky plate in 2016.

The transportation department denied the request on the basis it violated anti-discrimination guidelines.

A federal judge ruled in November that “vanity plates” are private speech protected by the First Amendment and that the state had violated Mr Hart’s rights by denying him the plate.

Lawyers for the state cabinet fought the costs, calling them excessive.

The fees will go to a team of lawyers, including some with the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky and the Freedom From Religion Foundation, both of which helped Mr Hart challenge the state’s decision.

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