Upper Bann MP Carla Lockhart recently hosted Isabel Vaughan-Spruce on a visit to Parliament. Isabel was arrested for silently praying near an abortion facility in Birmingham and subsequently searched, interrogated, arrested and charged for breaking a Public Space Protection Order censorship zone (or “buffer zone”) four times.
Carla Lockhart said:
“The arrest and subsequent charge against Isabel has highlighted the draconian impact of buffer zone legislation.
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. Indeed if we are limiting the thoughts of pro-life individuals, I wonder where it will end. What will happen to others who speak out on unpopular 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.
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 politicians priorities lie and how they are aggressively removing rights enjoyed in this country for hundreds of years. We must continue with our efforts to amend Clause 9 as it makes its way through the Public Order Bill in Parliament.
I would like to thank Isabel for her courageousness and to the team of dedicated staff at Right to Life who made this visit possible. A very powerful morning.”