UK Drops Charge Against Woman Arrested for Silent Prayer 'Thought Crime' in Abortion 'Buffer Zone'
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The UK's West Midlands Police have finally dropped the charge against the woman who was arrested last March for a second time for the "offense" of silently praying in her head within an abortion facility censorship zone or "buffer zone."
The faith-based law firm Alliance Defending Freedom UK (ADF UK) reports their client, Isabel Vaughan-Spruce, also received an apology from the police department for the six months the investigation took to reach a conclusion.
Vaughan-Spruce, a pro-life volunteer, and co-director of March for Life UK received an email from the West Midlands Police Department citing the reason for dropping the charges against her. The police told her that they had dropped their investigation because the 'limitation of proceedings' had expired on Sept. 6, The Daily Mail reported. A police department spokesman also said, "There will be no further investigation into the alleged matter, and there will be no further action taken."
The police's decision not to prosecute Vaughan-Spruce came after the UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman published an open letter directing police departments across the country to avoid politicized policing, the ADF UK said.
Braverman's letter directly spells out that "silent prayer, within itself, is not unlawful" and "holding lawful opinions, even if those opinions may offend others, is not a criminal offense."
BREAKING— ADF UK (@ADF_UK) September 22, 2023
WIN for Isabel Vaughan-Spruce as police drop six month investigation into her "thoughtcrime" with NO CHARGES.
Her name has been cleared only weeks after the Home Secretary clarified that "silent prayer" is "not unlawful".
In a statement, Vaughan-Spruce alluded to British author George Orwell's dystopian social science fiction novel and cautionary tale titled "1984," saying "This isn't 1984, but 2023 – I should never have been arrested or investigated simply for the thoughts I held in my own mind."
"Silent prayer is never criminal. I welcome West Midland Police's decision to end their investigation and their apology for the time it took to do so, but it's important to highlight the extremely harmful implications of this ordeal not just for myself, but for everyone concerned with fundamental freedoms in the UK. What happened to me signals to others that they too could face arrest, interrogation, investigation, and potential prosecution if caught exercising their basic freedom of thought," the statement said.
"Now that authorities have twice settled on the conclusion that silent prayer is not a crime – a conclusion also reached by the Home Secretary last week – I am thankful to resume my practice of praying silently for women in crisis pregnancies," the statement concluded.
Jeremiah Igunnubole, legal counsel for ADF UK said the six-month wait for charges to be filed was hard on his client.
"The arduous process of this criminal ordeal has been the punishment for Isabel. Moreover, her story has put the world on notice that fundamental freedoms are vulnerable in the UK," he said in a press release.
"There is now an urgent need for legal changes to stem the tide of policing by politics. We hope the decision from West Midlands Police that they will not prosecute free thought, alongside the Home Secretary's public commitment to protecting silent prayer, will be reflected in legislation, guidance, and practice," Igunnubole added.
As CBN's Faithwire previously reported, the UK's Public Order Bill crossed all parliamentary hurdles earlier this year, creating the massive buffer zone around abortion clinics. The bill criminalizes "influencing" outside abortion facilities, which includes prayer, peaceful conversations, or offers to help women with services available to those who would like an alternative to abortion.
Critics say arrests under the Public Order Bill are an attack on the freedom of expression, and more importantly on religious expression.
Second Arrest Came Just Weeks After Being Acquitted by UK Court of the Same Charge
As CBN News reported, Vaughan-Spruce's second arrest for praying silently in an abortion buffer zone came just weeks after being acquitted by a UK court for the same violation. She had been criminally charged with violating a local Public Spaces Protection Order last December and was acquitted of all charges by Birmingham Magistrates' Court in February.
Then Vaughan-Spruce was arrested for the second time in March outside the BPAS Robert Clinic in Birmingham. Her exchange with two police officers was captured in a now-viral video clip that was released on social media by ADF UK.
In the 46-second video, she told a police officer she wasn't protesting. The officer replied, "But you said you were engaging in prayer which is the offense."
Vaughan-Spruce responded, "Silent prayer."
"No, but you were still engaging in prayer. It is an offense," the officer told her.
BREAKING: Isabel has been arrested, AGAIN, for THINKING.— ADF UK (@ADF_UK) March 6, 2023
MPs vote TOMORROW on banning silent prayer near all abortion facilities in&
"You've said you're engaging in prayer, which is the offense."
"You were still engaging in prayer, which is the offense." pic.twitter.com/AId3OguiXz
Meanwhile, a father and Afghanistan veteran also awaits trial for committing the same act of silent prayer inside a censorial "buffer zone" in Bournemouth.
As CBN News reported in August, Adam Smith-Connor pleaded "not guilty" after being charged by police.
He will appear at Poole Magistrates Court in November, the ADF UK said.
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