Press Release

Pro-life campaigner to pursue judicial review after being banned from displaying images of fetuses in London borough

21 March 2022         Issued by: Christian Concern

Tomorrow, a pro-life campaigner will seek permission for a judicial review of a judge’s decision to uphold him being banned from displaying educational images of living and aborted fetuses in a London borough.

Supported by the Christian Legal Centre, Christian Hacking, 31, an employee of the Centre for Bio-ethical Reform UK (CBR UK), will seek permission at the High Court (Administrative Court), on the 22 March.

In October 2019, Mr Hacking, while leading a group of pro-life campaigners, was issued with a Community Protection Notice (CPN) by Waltham Forest Council for showing images of fetuses in MP Stella Creasy’s constituency.

One large display juxtaposed Stella Creasy’s head with the comment “your MP is working hard ….” The other banner had an image of a 22-week-old aborted female fetus with the logo #StopStella along with the heading “….to make this a human right.” Underneath there was a description which said: “24-week aborted baby girl”.

The educational displays were put up in Walthamstow as part of a #StopStella campaign aimed at exposing the reality Miss Creasy’s proposed policies through which she seeks to allow abortion on demand with none of the remaining protections of the 1967 Act.

This would allow abortions up until 28 weeks. Miss Creasy is one of the leading and most vocal supporters of decriminalisation of abortion in parliament.

In response to the campaign, Miss Creasy demanded the police and local council intervene.

The police refused as they said no crime had been committed. However, council officials, who later admitted in court to acting unlawfully and being out of their depth, shut down and confiscated the displays and issued Mr Hacking with a CPN. Ms Creasy hailed their actions as ‘heroic’.

The notice is believed to be the first borough-wide censorship on displaying the medically verified images of unborn and aborted babies. Breaching the notice is a criminal offence.

Waltham Forest Council claimed that the images were responsible for “unreasonable behaviour that was persistent in nature” and had “a detrimental effect on the quality of life of others.”

Appealing the issuing of the notice in May 2020, Magistrates Court District Judge Jonathan Radway ruled that the image of an abortion at 24 weeks was ‘sickening’ and ‘horrific’ and that Mr Hacking’s article 10 rights to freedom of expression had been interfered with.

However, he ultimately upheld the ban and found that although there was an interference with Mr Hacking’s free speech, this was justified because some members of the public found the images disturbing.

Lawyers will now seek permission to have judicial review of the decision of the magistrates court, on the grounds that the interference by council workers was ‘disproportionate’, that the court placed an ‘improper limit on what is ‘necessary’ political speech’, and that an ‘individual or individuals stating that they felt upset is not sufficient to justify the imposition of a community protection notice.’

Ahead of the hearing, Mr Hacking said: “Stella Creasy was responsible to introducing abortion into Northern Ireland up to 24 weeks and yet when we peacefully showed her constituents what her policies look like, the kitchen sink was thrown at me.

“The image displayed in Walthamstow in October 2019 were upsetting because late term abortion is upsetting, but it’s also what Stella Creasy’s policies permit.

“The fact of the matter is, images, including ones that some people may find upsetting, have been used repeatedly down the centuries to alert the public of human rights abuses. Walthamstow Council are ultimately not preventing detrimental effects, but enabling the human victims of Stella Creasy’s policies to be hidden away.

“The real victim in all of this debacle is not me, nor MP Stella Creasy, but unborn children. And this is why we must seek every avenue to get this sanction removed.”

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said: “The previous ruling on this case hinged 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.”

Offers to debate were ignored

MP Stella Creasy is one of the most vocal activists in the House of Commons for liberalising abortion across the UK. She has been particularly active pushing liberalised laws on Northern Ireland.

To achieve this, she has sought to overturn sections 58 and 59 of the Offences Against the Person Act, which would all but remove the few remaining protections for unborn children.

Mr Hacking had written to Stella Creasy and asked to meet to discuss her policies, but had been repeatedly ignored.

Left with no alternative but to challenge her policies and to raise awareness of them in her constituency, CBR UK launched a three-week campaign, called #StopStella.

Staff and local volunteers, who are trained to peacefully and respectfully engage members of the public on the subject of abortion, shared leaflets and held up public education displays featuring an image of an aborted baby at 24 weeks.

The banner on display on Walthamstow High Street included a photo of Stella Creasy and an image of the tragic reality of an aborted fetus and read: ‘Your MP is working hard….to make this a human right.’
As well as the displays, a billboard advert, secured through one of the world’s biggest advertising agency, Clear Channel, went up in Walthamstow with a scientifically validated image of a 9-week living fetus.

MP claimed harassment

Within 24 hours, Stella Creasy, forced Clear Channel to take down the adverts. She then addressed parliament claiming she was the ‘victim of harassment’, demanded action from the Home Secretary and pushed the police to treat the campaigners as criminals.

Allegedly misusing her public office to shut down opposition, on 3 October 2019, she informed her followers that action would be taken against campaigners by Waltham Forest Council.

The same day, pro-life campaigners led by Mr Hacking set up their displays on Walthamstow High Street.
Staff and volunteers were immediately intimidated by a couple of pro-abortion members of the public who blocked their displays and tried to prevent the banners being displayed.

Displays taken down and confiscated

Phil Connor, Antisocial Behaviour Service Delivery Manager, at Waltham Forest Council, then confronted Mr Hacking with a Community Protection Warning accusing the pro-lifers of engaging in “unreasonable behaviour which is persistent” and “having a detrimental effect on the quality of life of others.”

The written warning, issued under the Antisocial Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014, defined the unreasonable behaviour as: “Displaying large images of unborn and/or aborted foetuses which have caused or are likely to cause distress and/or alarm to members of the public.”

When Mr Hacking refused to take down the banners, council workers issued him with the CPN and then temporarily confiscated the displays. Mr Hacking and the group then left the area.

Stella Creasy rejoiced at the news and boasted on Instagram that as a result of CBR UK’s campaign she had raised £7,000 for an abortion charity that week.

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