Christian preacher, 72, is convicted of breaching police order for protesting against abortion inside ‘buffer zone’ surrounding family planning clinic

Feb 2, 2024 by

by Cameron Roy, Daily Mail:

A 72-year-old Christian preacher has been convicted of breaching a police order for protesting against abortion inside a ‘buffer zone’.

Stephen Green held a sign with a religious verse on it inside a zone near a family clinic which was covered by a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) in west London in February last year.

Green, of Carmarthen in Wales, held what was described in court as a ‘large sign’ containing Psalm 139: 13 written on it – a scripture which implies that life is sacred from the moment of conception.

It read: ‘For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb.’

The PSPO, enacted by Ealing Council in April 2018 outside the MSI Reproductive Choices Clinic in Mattock Lane, was the first so-called buffer zone surrounding an abortion clinic to be introduced in the UK.

PSPO legislation is usually reserved for anti-social behaviour such as dog fouling, littering and alcohol and drug misuse.

He had pleaded not guilty to breaching the order and proclaimed his right to freedom of speech.

At a hearing in October his defence lawyer cited the European Convention on Human Rights Article 9 freedom of belief, Article 10 freedom of expression, and Article 11  freedom of assembly.

But he was convicted at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, with District Judge Kathryn Verghis saying he had ‘pointedly and intentionally’ included the words ‘in my mother’s womb’ as ‘an act of protest’.

She said those particular words, being displayed as they were in that zone outside an abortion clinic ‘amount to an expression of disapproval as envisaged by the order’.

She noted that his protest had been peaceful but said she attached ‘great weight’ to the fact it was possible for him to protest in an area other than that covered by the order.

The court heard that clinic staff had to be diverted from their work to deal with the protest and that local residents had challenged Green, but that there was no evidence of any clinic patients suffering as a result on the day.

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