The High Court has today upheld the Public Space Protection Order created by Ealing Council in April 2018. The Ealing PSPO criminalises prayer, the handing out of leaflets and any act of approval or disapproval regarding abortion.
Alina Dulgheriu, a mother aided by pro-life vigils and who brought the legal challenge is considering options for appeal.
Alina Dulgheriu, who was supported outside an abortion centre, and is bringing forward the legal challenge has released the following statement:
“I am saddened and shocked that the Court has upheld a PSPO that prevents good people giving help to mothers who desperately want it. I am surprised that evidence that the judge recognised isn’t of a criminal standard, can be used to criminalise a whole section of society that holds an ‘unfashionable’ worldview.
Today the Court has said that it is okay for councils to criminalise prayer, even silent prayer on our streets, how can this be right? Today the Court has dismissed fundamental human rights such as freedom of expression because it gives authorities the benefit of the doubt in whether doing so is reasonable or not. I thought the whole point of human rights is that authorities have to truly justify draconian laws?
I am devastated for those women that since the introduction of the Ealing PSPO, have not been able to access the loving help that I did. I feel desperately sorry for the vigil members who since the move to create this PSPO have been consistently subject to abuse on the street and slander online.
I am discussing every option available to me to be able to challenge this decision, which for the sake of vulnerable women and the future of our fundamental freedoms, should not be able to stand.”
Andre Clovis of Tuckers Solicitors, representing Ms Dulgheriu has issued the following statement:
“We are all very disappointed that the Court ultimately overlooked the many compelling arguments in favour of quashing the Public Spaces Protection Order, and thus the Claimants have sought the Court’s permission to appeal. This decision allows Ealing Council to seek criminal sanctions against individuals for purported ‘misbehaviour,’ such as silent prayer. This outcome sets as dangerous precedent and is a direct attack upon our very basic rights, such as freedom of expression. My view is that this decision cannot and should not be looked at in isolation for fear we continue the worrying trend of becoming a society where those with opposing views simply seek to shut each other down rather than engage in dialogue and debate.
The true test for your belief in freedom of expression, is whether you are prepared to fight for the rights of those whose views you do not share, because you believe it is their right to hold and express views different from your own.”
Clare Carberry, an Ealing resident and spokeswoman for the Be Here For Me campaign said:
“Despite disappointment at the outcome today, this is certainly not the end of the road. I would like to pay tribute to Alina.
It is Alina who is making history today. Alina is the true Sister Supporter. She, along with the many brave volunteers who have seen their incredibly selfless and life changing work traduced, smeared and now banned, deserves nothing but our great admiration, gratitude and respect.
Before this case came to the courts it was wholly denied that women like Alina even existed. The dominant narrative was that every woman attending an abortion centre was freely and independently choosing an abortion and that the vigils outside the clinic offered them nothing.
It was an uphill battle to get the press to interview her. This indomitable young Romanian mother, who herself was helped at the threshold of an abortion centre, has blown the lid on the myth that abortion clinics offer options to women who are in the most difficult circumstance. She has overturned the pretence that the pro life vigils outside their doors do not offer help and that women do not want them there. This is an inconvenient truth that is not going away.
Alina always knew that hers was a truly David and Goliath battle. I am full of admiration for her guts and courage in the face of the most terrible intimidation and abuse. Much of the abuse she has experienced has been owing to grotesquely false allegations shamefully supported and bruited about by those who oppose her, including my own council ( Ealing) and even my local MP Rupa Huq.
She stood stoutly before a juggernaut of lies and did not flinch or back down. Her boldness in speaking truth to power has given inspiration and encouragement to all who cherish human rights and freedoms.”
Elizabeth Howard, an Ealing resident and spokeswoman for the Be Here For Me campaign said:
“This decision is a major blow for free speech and human rights in this country. But the struggle for human rights has never been easy. And while there are women who feel they have no choice but an abortion they don’t want, we will do their best to reach them.
Even under the draconian restrictions imposed by the council, several women have accepted help from the pro-life vigil. Sadly, as a result of the PSPO, there are hundreds more desperately vulnerable women who haven’t had the opportunity to access the help that many of them may have wanted.
Women like Alina who have received vital help from vigils told Ealing Council that they could not put a value on being able to keep the child they wanted. Ealing Council whitewashed those women out of their deliberations. It seems as though the Court has done the same.
While deeply disappointing, this decision is certainly not the end of the road.”