A pro-life campaigner is heading to court this week to appeal an anti-social behaviour injunction he was served with after displaying pictures of abortion in Stella Creasy’s constituency.
Waltham Forest Council issued Christian Hacking, 29, with a community protection notice (CPN) on 3 October 2019, claiming that the images amounted to “unreasonable behaviour that was persistent in nature” and had “a detrimental effect on the quality of life of others”.
Hacking works for the Centre for Bioethical Reform UK (CBR UK), which was running the #Stopstella campaign at the time to challenge her support for radical changes to the abortion law in Northern Ireland.
The campaign saw CBR UK volunteers hand out flyers and display large posters and billboards showing images of both unborn and aborted babies in Walthamstow.
The billboards were pulled after Ms Creasy claimed that they were offensive to people in her constituency and amounted to “sustained harassment”.
She contacted the Metropolitan Police but they took no action against the group as they said no crime had been committed.
Mr Hacking was issued the CPN under the Antisocial Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014 after he refused to take down his banners.
The CPN defined the unreasonable behaviour as: “Displaying large images of unborn and/or aborted foetuses which have caused or are likely to cause distress and/or alarm to members of the public.”
Mr Hacking is to appeal the community protection notice at Stratford Magistrates Court during a two-day hearing later this week.
He is being supported by the Christian Legal Centre, which said that everyone had the right to freedom of expression and to share information or ideas without interference by public authority.
Ahead of the hearing, Mr Hacking said: “It is vital in a democratic society that public figures be held to account for their policies.”
He added: “If this CPN is upheld it will set a dangerous precedent, not only for pro-life campaigners, but anyone who seeks to criticise and oppose an elected MP in public. This case is deeply chilling for freedom of speech and expression in our society.”
Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said: “Christian Hacking and CBR UK have done nothing unlawful. This whole case has been caused by MP Stella Creasy crying ‘foul’ and claiming harassment after being faced with the reality of what she fights for in parliament.
“If facing the reality of abortion causes her such discomfort, then abortion protests itself.
“Groups like CBR UK have been told that protests shouldn’t be held outside abortion clinics and that they should take place in other public spaces. Now we’re being told they’re not allowed to display in the public domain.
“Where exactly is anyone who wants to stand against the killing of a child in the womb allowed the freedom to protest?”