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Council taken to court for prayer-exclusion zone

July 2019

Legal proceedings have been launched in the High Court against Richmond Council, challenging a controversial public space protection order (PSPO) around an abortion clinic.

The PSPO makes it a criminal offence to, among other things, pray or have conversations about abortion. The legal challenge has been brought by pro-life campaigner Justyna Pasek.

The broadly-worded PSPO came into effect on 1 April, and criminalises otherwise peaceful activities, such as conversations about alternative options, counselling, prayer and distribution of leaflets.

Richmond Council voted to proceed with the implementation of the censorship zone despite concerns being raised by civil rights organisations, including Liberty.

The development in Richmond comes as a similar legal battle in Ealing continues. A High Court judgment upheld a PSPO in Ealing, but that ruling is set to be heard by the Court of Appeal on 16 July.

Clare Mulvany, spokeswoman for the ‘Be Here For Me’ campaign said, ‘The draconian PSPO must be challenged and we at Be Here For Me fully support Ms Pasek’s brave efforts against Richmond Council’.

Robert Clarke, director of European advocacy for ADF International, said, ‘This PSPO is entirely disproportionate. It is a violation of freedom of speech’.