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Conviction of pro-life campaigner overturned

August 2015

Bernadette SmythA Northern Irish judge has overturned the conviction for harassment of a prominent pro-life campaigner.

Bernadette Smyth, founder of the Precious Life group, was found guilty in November 2014 of harassing the programme director of Northern Ireland’s first Marie Stopes abortion facility.

Since the opening of the centre, Ms Smyth had been one of a group from Precious Life gathering outside to pray and educate the public about the damage of abortion.

She was later arrested and convicted for harassing Dawn Purvis who oversees the centre. Last December, deputy district Judge Chris Holmes ordered Ms Smyth to pay £2000 in compensation to Ms Purvis and undertake 100 hours of community service. Ms Smyth was also told not to go within 20 yards of the abortion facility for a five year period.

However, in June this year, Judge Gordon Kerr overturned the conviction, ruling that there had been insufficient evidence of harassment. 
In an earlier statement from Christian Concern, Ms Smyth said, ‘The sole purpose of our presence outside the Marie Stopes centre in Belfast is to defend human life and reach out with support to mothers with unexpected pregnancies.

‘We do not harass or intimidate. We reach out to women with practical, caring solutions which uphold the dignity of both mother and child. Women deserve better than abortion’.

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