Victory for pro-lifers in key freedom of expression case
A District Judge, sitting at Brighton Magistrates' Court announced today that all charges were being dismissed against Christian pro-life campaigner Andy Stephenson. The case against his fellow campaigner, Kathryn Sloane, was dismissed on Thursday of last week (13 Sep) during the same trial.
All charges against both campaigners have therefore now been dismissed. District Judge Nicholson's reasoning in the case is expected at 2pm tomorrow (18 Sep).
Andy and Kathryn were supported by the Christian Legal Centre and were represented in Court by human rights barrister Paul Diamond and Mr Michael Phillips.
Andy and Kathryn, members of the campaign group Abort67, were arrested in June 2011, whilst demonstrating silently in the vicinity of Wistons Clinic, operated by leading abortion provider BPAS, in Brighton. As part of its public education project, the group, which has held peaceful protests outside the establishment for 5 years, displays images of aborted babies but does so silently and without harassment.
Andrea Minichiello Williams, Barrister and Chief Executive of the Christian Legal Centre, which represents Andy and Kathryn, said: “The dismissal of these charges will be welcomed by all who value freedom of speech and expression. It is especially important in the context of the continuing debate about the role of independent abortion providers and the information made available to women.
“This trial exposed the fact that not all who attend the clinic considering abortion receive counselling. Through the work that they do, Andrew and Kathryn seek to give women 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.”