Pro-life group seeks investigation into police officer's response to alleged assault

CBR UK's pro-life display in Norwich.(Photo: CBR UK)

Pro-life group, Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform (CBR UK), is calling for an investigation into a Norfolk police sergeant who said that causing offence through anti-abortion displays could be deemed equivalent to assaulting a person.

A video recorded on July 23 in Norwich city centre shows Sgt Clay's remarks. The police were called after an alleged assault on a CBR team member, also recorded on the video.

Sgt Clay was filmed telling CBR director Dave Brennan: "Yes, you have a right to free speech – not to say that you have committed the offence (of inciting violence) – but if someone reports it, there is as much likelihood that a court will find that you're guilty of an offence as, say, the person that assaulted your colleague."

Mr Brennan asked Sgt Clay whether he really meant to say that CBR exercising its "expressive rights" was legally equivalent to "hitting someone in the face".

"Yes, absolutely," Sgt Clay replied. "Why not?"

He went on to say that if the pro-life images displayed by CBR trigger trauma in someone who has had an abortion due to rape or a medical condition, that this "absolutely could be" equivalent to a physical assault.

"I think in the modern world we all know the damage that psychological trauma can cause," he said.

CBR says it has "drafted legal representations to be sent to the Norwich Superintendent requesting an investigation into the actions of Sergeant Clay".

Brennan told Christian Today: "Sgt Clay's response to the assault of one of my team was shocking. Instead of defending unequivocally our freedom to educate peacefully and legally in a public space, he suggested that our doing so was effectively violence and we were as much to blame as our attacker was.

"He either does not know or is flagrantly disregarding the very laws that he is employed to enforce: I am not sure which would be more worrying.

"The real victims here are the babies: poisoned to death and flushed down toilets, dismembered with metal tools and treated as medical waste, in their hundreds every single day in our nation.

"We'll fight this freedom of speech case all the way because the victims of this genocide need us to: they cannot speak for themselves."

Norfolk Constabulary have defended Sergeant Clay. 

"The constabulary plans their response to public events based on individual circumstances," it said. 

"We always look to engage with organisers of these events to ensure appropriate policing plans are in place to minimise the disruption caused to communities and frontline policing and ensure the safety of everyone involved.

"Everyone has the right to free speech and expression, however, officers will take the appropriate action against those select few who deliberately choose to act outside the law."

In response to this statement, CBR UK denied acting outside the law.

"Categorically, we have never acted outside of the law in these public education displays and this has been definitively vindicated in court regarding our wrongful arrest by Sussex Police several years ago," it said.

"It looks like perhaps Norfolk Constabulary are on course to make the same mistake Sussex made.

"We are exercising our lawful right to educate and express views in public and we do so in a peaceful and respectful manner."

CBR UK has been active in pro-life public education since 2008, using graphic images to show the reality of abortion. It took its campaign to Norwich city centre for the first time over the summer.

CBR founder and chief executive, Andy Stephenson, told Christian Today that previous arrests have failed to lead to a prosecution.

"We never give into threats of arrest where there are no reasonable grounds for such," he said.