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

A judge has upheld a ban on showing the tragic reality of abortion in Walthamstow
Today, in a crucial case for freedom of speech and the unborn, a judge has upheld the banning of Christian Hacking displaying the tragic reality of MP Stella Creasy's extreme abortion policies in her London constituency.

District Judge Jonathan Radway ruled that an image of abortion is 'sickening' and 'horrific' and upheld the ban on showing large images of unborn babies publicly in Walthamstow.

Supported by the Christian Legal Centre, Christian now intends to appeal this decision.
Christian, a campaigner with the Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform UK (CBR UK), was initially issued with a Community Protection Notice (CPN) banning him from showing large images of unborn babies in the borough of Waltham Forest.

The images were part of a display exposing the reality of local MP Stella Creasy's extreme support for abortion, which includes allowing abortion for any reason as far as 28 weeks into a pregnancy.

Council workers also interfered in the display after public cries from Stella Creasy of 'harassment', and later confiscated banners in an action the council now admits was unlawful.

The judgment finds that the CPN did interfere with Christian's rights to freedom of expression, but that this was justified because some members of the public found the images 'disturbing'.
Read the judgment
Read coverage in the Guardian
Donate to help us protect the freedom to expose abortion

'How can we speak for the unborn if the authorities dictate how we speak?'

Watch Christian Hacking's reaction to the outcome
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."
The image displayed showing the tragic reality of MP Stella Creasy's abortion policies. The council admitted in court to unlawfully removing and confiscating it.  

Shutting down free speech

The case was initially 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 inform constituents and expose the realities of Stella Creasy's extreme abortion policies.

However, in response, Ms Creasy sought to criminalise displaying the images, demanding that the police intervene, and tried to use any means possible to shut down the campaign.
Watch the documentary that exposes the full story that Stella Creasy does not want the public to know
On 3 October 2019, Waltham Forest Council moved quickly in response to confiscate CBR UK's banners, despite the police confirming that no crime had been committed. Instead, Christian, who was leading the group displaying the banners and handing out leaflets, was confronted by council officers and then 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 Christian with the CPN and taking down the banners.

During the tribunal, senior and frontline council staff admitted their actions were unlawful - actions which Ms Creasy had hailed as 'heroic'. 
MP Stella Creasy, with her recently born child, advocates for abortion up to 28 weeks into a pregnancy for any reason.

Abortion 'immune to criticism'

Andrea Williams, chief executive of Christian Concern, 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."

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