Two Christian pro-life campaigners are celebrating what say is a victory for free speech after being cleared of criminal charges for displaying a graphic banner outside an abortion clinic.
A District Judge dismissed the case against Andrew Stephenson and Kathryn Sloane who were arrested after unfurling 7ft banners showing aborted foetuses outside the Wistons clinic in Brighton last year.
They went on trial at Brighton magistrates’ court last week accused of breaching the Public Order Act by displaying images likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress .
District Judge Nicholson ruled that there was insufficient evidence to continue with the trial. He will give his reasons today.
Claims emerged during the trial that police had been actively fishing for complaints in an effort to get rid of the campaigners. Stephenson said:
What the police have been doing in shutting us down has had a chilling effect on free speech. Hopefully, this will have a chilling effect on the police to hold back on the over-reaching application of the law.