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UK News

Setback for Christian man on trial for praying near abortion clinic

by Tola Mbakwe

A Christian army veteran who was criminally charged after praying silently near an abortion clinic has expressed frustration after a court postponed his trial.

Poole Magistrates’ Court was due to hear the case of Adam Smith-Connor on Wednesday, but it was rescheduled for 18th January.

“I’m disappointed that the court postponed my hearing today, and I will have to wait over Christmas to make clear in court that I have committed no crime by way of my silent prayer,” Smith-Connor said.

“I still can’t believe that in England in 2023, I have to face criminal prosecution for what I thought in my own mind. Even if freedom prevails eventually, this process, now drawn out even further, has been punishing. I served in the army reserves for 20 years, including in Afghanistan, to protect fundamental freedoms – I never thought I’d have to defend such a basic right for myself here at home”.

Christian religious freedom legal organisation ADF UK said it planned to ask the court to dismiss the prosecution on the basis of unfairness.

“While the judge referred to the complexities of the case as the reason for postponing, we must remember that the facts of Adam’s case are really very simple—he is being criminally charged for his silent prayer,” said Jeremiah Igunnubole, legal counsel for ADF UK.

“It is most unfortunate that this lengthy and gruelling process is continuing to impact Adam’s life, for only having prayed in
his head”.

He added: “It is deeply concerning for local councils to have the power to prosecute residents for alleged ‘thoughtcrimes’ in a free society”.
Last year, some local authorities introduced buffer zones through a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) near abortion facilities. They criminalise any act of approval or disapproval in regards to abortion services, including prayer or counselling.

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