Court throws out abortion protest case
Published 17 September 2012
Charges have been dropped against two pro-life campaigners who displayed pictures of aborted babies during a peaceful protest outside an abortion clinic.
Andrew Stephenson and Kathryn Sloane, members of the campaign group Abort67, were arrested last year and charged under Section 5 of the Public Order, which criminalises causing harrassment, alarm or distress to the public.
Members of Abort67 had held peaceful demonstrations outside the Wistons Clinic in Brighton for five years before facing police action.
After the court's verdict, Stephenson and Sloane are now seeking an urgent meeting with police chiefs to examine how the Public Order Act is being interpreted, particularly in relation to public expressions motivated by religious belief.
The pair were supported in their case by the Christian Legal Centre.
CLC chief executive Andrea Minichiello Williams welcomed the dismissal of the charges as a victory for freedom of speech and expression.
She said: "Through the work that they do, Andrew and Kathryn seek to givewomen access to truth about abortion which although unpleasant is nonetheless true. If women are to make informed decisions about abortion, they need to be aware of the full impact of it.
"Flowing from their Christian faith, Andrew and Kathryn are motivated by their concern for women considering abortion and their conviction that all life is precious in God’s sight and needs to be protected. They seek to be voice for those who have no voice.
“Given our experience in this and other similar cases, we will be seeking a meeting with the Association of Chief Police Officers to explore whether better guidance can be drawn up over the policing of such activities, especially those motivated by religious convictions.”
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