Preacher must wait to hear if he is guilty of breaching abortion clinic buffer zone

Stephen Green(Photo: Christian Legal Centre)

Judgment has been reserved in the case of a street preacher prosecuted for holding a sign quoting Psalm 139:13 near an abortion clinic in Ealing.

Stephen Green, who is being supported by the Christian Legal Centre (CLC), was in court in Uxbridge on Friday after being prosecuted by Ealing Council under section 67 of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014. 

Charges were brought against the 72 year old after he held the sign within the parameter of a 'buffer zone' on 6 February 2023. 

His sign read: "Psalm 139:13 For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb." 

He is alleged to have broken the Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) imposed around the abortion clinic in 2018 by Ealing Council.

The PSPO criminalises "protesting, namely engaging in an act of approval/disapproval, with respect to issues related to abortion services", and includes prayer. 

He will now have to wait until a later date to find out whether he has been found guilty. If guilty, he faces a fine of up to £1,000 and the possibility of up to six months in prison.

The CLC is asking Christians to pray for Mr Green. 

Speaking ahead of Friday's hearing, Mr Green said he was "deeply shocked" by his prosecution and called it "an attack on the Bible and free speech".

"I am determined to defend myself and fight for justice," he said. 

"People are right to be concerned about the buffer zone legislation. To bar Christian witness and to control what people can say in an area is draconian and anti-Christian.

"There is a huge principle at stake here. If we are not free to hold a sign with a verse from Psalm 139 on it in a London street, then none of us is free."

CLC chief executive Andrea Williams said: "It is worrying that a man in his 70s holding a sign with a Bible verse on it is now being treated as an 'emergency' situation by the police.

"Buffer zones are an oppressive part of the current culture which force consent and silence dissent. The effect of the PSPO is to criminalise any act of disapproval of abortion and to create an area where no discussion or even prayer relating to abortion, is permitted.

"There have now been over 10 million abortions in the UK since abortion was legalised in 1967. That is a staggering number. That is almost twice the population of Scotland and more than the entire population of London. Millions of people would be alive today if abortion had not been legalised.

"Instead of lamenting this loss of life we are industrialising it, making it ever easier to obtain abortion effectively on demand, and now we are criminalising dissent.

"We will stand with Mr Green as he seeks justice in this case."