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Christian lady commences private 'Criminal' proceedings over Art Centre';s Statue of Christ

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A CHRISTIAN woman will tomorrow (September 2) take the unprecedented step of commencing Criminal Proceedings against an art centre for exhibiting a statue showing Jesus Christ to have an erect penis.

Whilst Criminal Proceedings are normally brought to court by the Crown Prosecution Service on behalf of the Crown, lawyers for Emily Mapfuwa, a forty year-old from Brentwoodwill outline to Magistrates sitting at Gateshead Magistrates Court why their client, and others, believe that the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art committed an ‘act of a lewd and a disgusting nature and outraged public decency contrary to Common Law’ and that displaying the statue caused several people to be harassed, alarmed or distressed contrary to public order law.

The Centre staged an exhibition of artwork by Terence Koh, a Chinese artist, between September 2007 and January 2008, which included the statute in question. Magistrates will hear that Exhibition managers received complaints from the public at the time of the exhibition, but had responded by simply saying that warnings about the potential offence the display might cause had been put up. Earlier this year, Mrs Mapfuwa contacted the Christian Legal Centre and sent a letter of complaint to Northumbria Police, asking for an investigation. She was informed by the Police at the end of May that there was no case. The Christian Legal Centre is supporting Mrs Mapfuwa as she pursues her private prosecution.

At the hearing, Mrs Mapfuwa and others will argue that the statue of Christ outraged public decency and that people who saw it were likely to be ‘harassed, alarmed, or distressed’. Andrea Minichiello Williams, director of the Christian Legal Centre said that the CLC, and Mrs Mapfuwa, believed in freedom of expression, but that “this statue served no other purpose than to offend Christians and to denigrate Christ”.


For further information:

Elizabeth Blaxall, CLC (020) 3327 1130, Paul Eddy (PR) 07958 905716


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