His Grace, Archbishop Jerome Lloyd OSJV has demonstrated solidarity with Andy Stephenson and Kathryn Sloane by attending their trial in Brighton Magistrate’s Court in a landmark case concerning freedom of expression. The pair work full time for the charity Abort67, and were arrested in June last year outside Wiston’s abortuary in Brighton, after they refused to take down a 7ft by 5ft illustrated banner. Monsignor Lloyd has frequently attended the presentations himself and was a defender of the charity’s support of the 40 Days for Life campaign in Brighton last year outside the same abortuary, defending them rigorously on Facebook and Twitter.
Mr Stephenson, 37, a father of three, has been charged with causing “harassment, alarm or distress” under the Public Order Act 1986, and with obstructing a police officer by refusing to hand over the banner. Miss Sloane, 21, faces one count of obstruction. They are both committed Christians. Abort ’67 deliberately uses graphic images showing the effect of abortion on foetuses as a public service to show what takes place in abortuaries.
Mr Stephenson, from Worthing, West Sussex, quoted in The Daily Telegraph said: “We are as passionate about free speech as we are about the abortion issue. Showing these images is absolutely crucial to our campaign. We are determined to fight it all the way. All we were doing was showing what is taking place legally inside abortion clinic every day, some of which are funded by the taxpayer.”
Abort ’67 say their use of graphic imagery is critical in shaping public opinion about the 200,000 terminations which take place in Britain each year and is rooted in the tradition of civil rights campaigning with such notables as Wilberforce and Martin Luther-King. The two campaigners are being represented by Paul Diamond, a leading human rights barrister. Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said: “This is an important test case for freedom of expression in our nation. Andy and Kathryn were simply displaying true images about the reality of abortion. Such images should not be suppressed from the public consciousness any more than pictures of famine or the reality of war. If we cannot face the pictures how can we conceive of endorsing the reality?”