Buffer zone advocates ‘criminalising silent prayer’ - Paisley
North Antrim MP Ian Paisley this week met with Isabel Vaughan-Spruce on a visit to Parliament.
Isabel was arrested for silently praying near an abortion facility in Birmingham and subsequently searched, arrested and charged for breaking a Public Space Protection Order censorship zone (or “buffer zone”) four times.
Her case was also recently raised by East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell through a Parliamentary Motion and directly with the Justice Secretary.
Ian Paisley MP said:
“The arrest and subsequent charge against Isabel has highlighted the draconian impact of buffer zone legislation. This is effectively the thought Police taking power. I trust the courts will throw this case out when it comes before the bench in February. For a police officer to ask a person are they praying and what are they praying about is a grotesque scandal and against a person's human rights. It is frightening that a Christian country would permit this arrest to happen.
"We are on a downward trajectory as a nation in terms of freedom of religion and freedom of expression. The criminalising of silent prayer in modern Britain is a dangerous pathway to pursue. In this case it was the private thoughts of a pro-life individual which saw her facing criminal charges, but people can rightly ask where it will end. What will happen to others who speak out on causes? Regardless of your stance on the right of life of the unborn child, this attack on freedom of thought should be of great concern to everyone.
"I firmly believe Clause 9 as it stands in this legislation must be amended. Likewise, in Northern Ireland, the potential impact of our legislation is startling when you consider the consequences of GB legislation.
"We are now firmly in the realm where ‘thought crimes’ like prayer are a policing priority. It is madness but reflects where some politician's priorities lie and how they are aggressively removing rights enjoyed in this country for hundreds of years. This is the entry to the lion's den!"