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Judge throws out injunction against pro-life vigil organiser

(Society for the Protection of Unborn Children)

A court has lifted an injunction against the organiser of a pro-life vigil, saying it is “simply not justified”.

Nottingham City Council brought the injunction against Dr John Edwards, 61, organiser of a 40 Days for Life vigil. He was accused of anti-social behaviour which could have alarmed people entering the abortion clinic at Queen’s Medical Centre.

However, in a hearing at Nottingham County Court, Judge Richard Owen QC said there was no evidence base for the injunction, and discharged it. He also said there was no basis for bringing the matter to full trial.

“We’re delighted that the court has decided to uphold our right to pray and to express our point of view in public,” Dr Edwards said.

“This was a deeply misguided attempt by the city council to attack free speech simply because they disagreed with our point of view.”

He said the vigil itself is peaceful, adding that participants pray quietly and hold banners that do not display images.

“We do not intimidate anyone. If anyone approaches us, we will talk to them, and can direct women to sources of support to help them keep their baby if that is what they wish. Many women around the country have been helped by such vigils,” he said.

He also described the council’s actions as an “act of bullying” aimed at preventing him from “exercising my basic rights to freedom of expression and to pray in public”.

“The Council’s action was a threat to all peaceful protest, whether on environmental issues, animal rights, or nuclear weapons. It is good news for everyone that it has been defeated today.”

John Smeaton, CEO of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, said: “It is great news that this attack through the courts on peaceful public acts of witness and freedom of expression has been defeated today.”