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State Agency stops Private Prosecution – ‘Denying Justice to be Done’ in Public Order Offence cause by Statue of Christ with Erect Phallus

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Issued By Christian Legal Centre

Press Release

For Immediate Release

12 November 2008


STATE AGENCY STOPS PRIVATE PROSECUTION – ‘DENYING JUSTICE TO BE DONE’ IN PUBLIC ORDER OFFENCE CAUSE BY STATUE OF CHRIST WITH ERECT PHALLUS


A CHRISTIAN woman has accused the Crown Prosecution Service of “pandering to a Secularist Agenda” and overseeing a “miscarriage of justice” after her private criminal prosecution over a statue of Christ with an erect Phallus was administratively transferred to the CPS, only to be dropped just 6 weeks later.


Emily Mapfuwa brought her private prosecution against Gateshead's Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art for “outraging public decency” after it exhibited work by controversial artists Terence Koh, including a statue of Jesus Christ with a large, erect penis.


At a hearing on September 2, representatives for the Baltic Flour Mills Visual Arts Trust elected trial by jury and proceedings were adjourned for a committal to Crown Court.  Although Emily Mapfuwa did not want it the CPS took over the case and decided, behind closed doors, that no crime had been committed and that no public offence had been caused.


In a statement issued by the CPS, Nicola Reasbeck, Chief Crown Prosecutor, said: "It is necessary to construe the offence of outraging public decency in a way that is compatible with the right of freedom of expression under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

"Having considered the evidence in this case with great care, we are satisfied that there is no case to answer. We have taken into account all the circumstances, including the fact that there was no public disorder relating to the exhibition and that there was a warning at the entrance to the gallery about the nature of the work on display. The case has therefore been discontinued."


But Ms Mapfuwa and the Christian Legal Centre which has supported her action, say the  case has strong similarities to the public and media unease at publishing the sensitive Mohammed cartoons at the start of the year, with many media outlets refusing to publish as it would cause offense to Muslims in the UK.  Ms Mapfuwa claims the CPS has refused to show equal sensitivity towards Christians, has caved into a growing secularist agenda within the British Legal System, and acted to prevent a basic tenant of our unwritten constitution.


She said: “This judgment by the CPS – who are effectively unaccountable – has usurped my constitutional rights to bring a private prosecution by saying there was a sign outside, a defence of freedom of expression is likely to succeed, and there was no public disorder.


“Whether there was a sign is neither here nor there, the statue was highly offensive and distasteful not only to Christians but also to women and children. 


“None of these issues should be decided behind closed doors but in a public court forum.  This is state secularist control at its worst and it is not only Christians who need to be concerned about such actions: this is fundamentally about access to justice. Access to justice needs to be transparent and justice should be seen to be done. This has not happened her”


Andrea Minichiello Williams, Director of the Christian Legal Centre commented:

'It is disturbing that the State can stop a case coming to court; the State can now pre-empt the decision of the Court, even when the Court has given permission for the case to go forward.  How does the CPS know what the Court will decide.  The right to a private prosecution is fundamental to a free society.  This is another example of the biased application of the law.  There is no public interest justifying such a course of action'


Emily Mapfuwa is now consulting lawyers of the Christian Legal Centre regarding next steps in the process.


ENDS.


For further information:

Michael Phillips (solicitor for Emily Mapfuwa) 0773909 4499; Andrea Minichiello Williams (CLC) 07712 591164.



From: Paul Eddy

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