Press Release

Abortion image ‘sickening’ and ‘horrific’ says judge as ban upheld

6 May 2020         Issued by: Christian Legal Centre

District Judge Jonathan Radway has today ruled that an image of abortion, showing the consequences of local MP Stella Creasy’s extreme support for abortion, is ‘sickening’ and ‘horrific’ as he upheld a ban on showing the image publicly in Walthamstow, London.

Pro-life campaigner Christian Hacking of the Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform UK (CBR UK) was given a Community Protection Notice (CPN), banning him from showing large images of unborn babies in the borough of Waltham Forest. The CPN was issued after Mr Hacking took part in a CBR UK display, where the banners were confiscated in an action the council has admitted was unlawful.

The judgment finds that the CPN did interfere with Mr Hacking’s article 10 rights to freedom of expression but that this was justified because some members of the public found the images disturbing.

Mr Hacking intends to appeal the decision.

Abortion ‘immune to criticism’

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, which is supporting the case, said:

“The judgment says that this case ‘is not about the rights and wrongs of abortion’. But it is impossible to disentangle this distressing image from the disturbing reality it shows.

“The ruling hinges on the idea that this image, showing the tragic reality of abortion, causes significant and lasting emotional harm.

“But however uncomfortable the truth, we must be free to make these distressing realities known – or the vastly more horrific truth of abortion becomes immune to criticism.

“There is a high bar to restricting free speech. Freedom of speech must include, and has been ruled in law to include, that which is shocking, provocative and offensive. Political campaigns are often shocking and disturbing. Graphic images of cancers are used in government advertising to persuade people not to smoke, for example. Abortion is by its nature a graphic deed. It is a bloody destruction of a human life. This is what was being exposed.

“The argument that some people found this image disturbing does not amount to an argument that they should not be allowed for political speech.”

‘Authorities must be held to account’

Commenting on the outcome, Christian Hacking said: “I am deeply disappointed that our appeal to show the reality of abortion to the people of Waltham Forest has not been successful.

“The real victim of abortion is not MP Stella Creasy, or the those negatively impacted by its visualisation, but the unborn child.

“How can we see positive change in the UK if politicians and councils are allowed to dictate how we express peaceable opinions in public?

“For the sake of the unborn and for freedom of speech we must take this appeal further and hold those authorities to account.”

Background to the case

The case was launched in response to Waltham Forest Council issuing the CPN to Christian Hacking during CBR UK’s #StopStella campaign in October 2019.

The aim of the campaign was to expose to Stella Creasy’s constituents the realities of her extreme abortion policies. These include legalising abortion for any reason as far as 28 weeks into a pregnancy.

As part of the campaign, the group displayed medically validated images of the reality of Ms Creasy’s policies.

In response, Ms Creasy sought to criminalise displaying the images, demanded that the police and council intervene and tried to use any means possible to shut down the campaign.

On 3 October 2019, Waltham Forest Council moved quickly in response to confiscate CBR UK’s banners, despite the police saying no crime had been committed.

Mr Hacking, who was leading the group displaying the banners and handing out leaflets, was confronted by council officers and was accused of engaging in “unreasonable behaviour which is persistent” and “having a detrimental effect on the quality of life of others.”

Video footage shown at the employment tribunal hearing at Stratford Magistrates Court in February 2020, reveals council officers then issuing Mr Hacking with the CPN and taking down and confiscating the banners.

During the tribunal, senior and frontline council staff admitted their actions were unlawful, actions which Ms Creasy had hailed as ‘heroic’.

  • Share