Pro-life campaigner, Christian Hacking, 29, was issued with a Community Protection Notice (CPN) for peacefully demonstrating the reality of abortion, after MP Stella Creasy demanded an anti-social behaviour injunction on the employee of Centre for Bioethical Reform UK (CBR UK).
Christian is set to appear in court this Wednesday to appeal the injunction, which was issued back in October 2019 by Waltham Forest Council after the pro-life group were showing pictures of the realities of abortion in the MP’s constituency as part of their #StopStella campaign.
MP demands local council intervenes
In response to the campaign, Stella Creasy MP, who is vehemently pro-abortion, demanded that the police and local council intervene to prevent Christian and other local volunteers from publicly criticising her extreme abortion proposals in Walthamstow.
The CPN issued to Christian, which has dubbed the ‘new ASBO’, is thought to be the first borough-wide restriction on displaying medically-approved images of unborn and aborted babies. Breaching the notice is a criminal offence.
No crime committed
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.”
However, despite pressure from Stella Creasy, the Metropolitan Police took no action against the group, saying that no crime had been committed.
CBR UK has previously used the images throughout London and the UK without any staff member or volunteer having been issued with a CPN before.
In 2012, the founders of CBR UK were arrested in Brighton for displaying the same images. However, a judge found them not guilty of causing any offence, stating, “I am not satisfied…that these images are ‘threatening, abusive or insulting’.” In subsequent civil court proceedings, both were awarded £40,000 in damages.
Supported by the Christian Legal Centre, Christian is now set to appeal the notice in a dramatic hearing on 26 and 27 February. His lawyers will argue in court that everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right should include the freedom to hold opinions and to receive and share information and ideas without interference by public authority.
Offers to debate ignored
Stella Creasy has been one of the most vocal activists in the House of Commons for liberalising abortion across the UK. Most recently, she has been particularly active in pushing extreme, liberalised abortion laws on Northern Ireland, which would all but remove the few remaining protections for unborn children.
Christian had written to Stella Creasy and asked to meet to discuss her policies, but had ignored on repeated occasions.
Left with no alternative but to challenge her policies publicly and raise awareness of them among her constituents, CBR UK launched a three-week campaign called #StopStella.
Staff and local volunteers are trained to peacefully and respectfully engage members of the public on the issue of abortion, sharing leaflets and holding 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 baby, reading: ‘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 claims ‘harassment’
Within just 24 hours, Stella Creasy forced Clear Channel to take down the adverts. She then addressed parliament, claiming she was the ‘victim of harassment’, demanding action from the Home Secretary and pushing the police to treat the campaigners as criminals.
Misusing her public office to shut down opposition, on 3 October 2019, she informed her followers on Twitter that action would be taken against campaigners by Waltham Forest Council.
The same day, pro-life campaigners – led by Christian – 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
Christian was then confronted by an Antisocial Behaviour Service Delivery Manager and issued a Community Protection Warning. The pro-life group was accused of engaging in “unreasonable behaviour which is persistent” and “having a detrimental effect on the quality of life of others” – despite the fact that the pro-abortion group was persistently blocking the banners, following the pro-life group around.
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.”
After Christian refused to take down the banners, council workers issued him with the CPN and then temporarily confiscated the displays. Christian and the group then left the area.
Stella Creasy rejoiced at the news, boasting on Instagram that as a result of CBR UK’s campaign, she had raised £7,000 for an abortion charity that week.
Notice sets a dangerous precedent
Ahead of the hearing, Christian commented: “It is vital in a democratic society that public figures be held to account for their policies.
“We wanted to engage Stella Creasy in debate on her radical abortion policies which she was forcing through parliament, but she refused. Instead she chose to solicit the assistance of the police and council to have our displays shut down. Displays which showed the victims of her policies.
“If this CPN is upheld it will set a dangerous precedent, not only for pro-life campaigners, but anyone who seeks to criticise and oppose an elected MP in public. This case is deeply chilling for freedom of speech and expression in our society.”
Where can anyone who is against abortion protest?
Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said: “Christian Hacking and CBR UK have done nothing unlawful. This whole case has been caused by MP Stella Creasy crying ‘foul’ and claiming harassment after being faced with the reality of what she fights for in parliament.
“If facing the reality of abortion causes her such discomfort, then abortion protests itself.
“Groups like CBR UK have been told that protests shouldn’t be held outside abortion clinics and that they should take place in other public spaces. Now we’re being told they’re not allowed to display in the public domain.
“Where exactly is anyone who wants to stand against the killing of a child in the womb allowed the freedom to protest?
“Since abortion became possible in 1967 there have been over 9 million abortions. That is a legalised, silent holocaust, which Christian Hacking and his colleagues were lawfully, peacefully and courageously campaigning on.
“We are determined to fight for justice in this case.”
You can watch video footage of the campaign below, which includes footage of council workers issuing the CPN and what many Walthamstow residents feel about Stella Creasy’s abortion policies: