A 23-YEAR-OLD Christian woman, whose attempt to bring ‘gender-abortion’ doctors to justice was derailed by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), will tomorrow (02 NOV) ask a court to set aside a crippling legal bill.
Aisling Hubert, who lives with her parents in East Sussex and is unable to pay the huge bill, says that the case raises crucial issues of access to justice and the CPS’s accountability.
Miss Hubert, who is due to appear at Brighton Magistrates’ Court tomorrow at 10:00, was ordered to pay £36,000 in costs to two doctors who were filmed by a national newspaper offering abortion on the basis of the baby’s gender. She was also told to pay a further £11,000 following an attempt to challenge the CPS’s decision to intervene and the costs already awarded against her. Her quest for justice has so far resulted in a total of £47,000 in costs orders.
The court is expected to determine what will happen with regard to costs orders totalling £36,000. It could reduce the sum, agree a gradual payment schedule, or impose a term of imprisonment.
‘Raises issues of accountability and access to justice’
Miss Hubert says that her experience raises important legal issues not only about abortion but about the pursuit of justice in a democratic society, and the accountability of the CPS.
The campaigner is calling on the government to review her case, and a petition launched by her has already attracted over 15,000 signatures.
“This isn’t just about abortion, it’s about our justice system. Private prosecution is an important check and balance on state power. It allows private citizens to fight for justice when the state apparatus has failed or turned a blind eye. But these massive costs will make it impossible for people like me in the future,” Aisling commented.
“These two doctors were filmed offering gender-abortion. I sought to bring them to justice. Now I am being punished and told to pay a huge sum to them. Where is the justice in that? It is completely immoral.
“It feels as though I am being punished by the legal establishment for exposing its reluctance to challenge gender-abortion,” she added.
‘It’s like female infanticide, isn’t it?’
During an undercover investigation by a national newspaper in 2012, Manchester-based Dr Prabha Sivaraman and Birmingham-based Dr Palaniappan Rajmohan were separately filmed offering abortion to a pregnant woman who said that she was carrying a female child but did not want to have a baby girl.
At one point, Dr Rajmohan said, “it’s like female infanticide, isn’t it?” whilst Dr Sivaraman said, “I don’t ask questions. If you want a termination, you want a termination.”
Rare private prosecution
After a lengthy police investigation, however, the CPS took the surprising decision not to proceed with the case, claiming that prosecution was not in the “public interest”, despite acknowledging that there was sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction.
Supported by the Christian Legal Centre, Aisling, who volunteers with pro-life group Abort67, took the rare step of embarking on private prosecutions of the two doctors.
Vital to the case was the full video footage of the consultations with the doctors.
Despite having the key video evidence in its possession, the CPS refused to release it. A judge sitting at Manchester Crown Court also refused to order the full footage into evidence.
The CPS then intervened to take-over the case and drop it.
Following the CPS’s intervention, Miss Hubert was ordered to pay £36,000 in costs to the two doctors.
One of the doctors, Dr Rajmohan had his registration suspended for three months by the General Medical Council as a result of the filmed consultations but the GMC dropped its investigation into Dr Sivaraman.
‘Turning a blind eye’
Commenting on her situation, Aisling said:
“I am delighted that so many people have already supported my petition to the Attorney General. My experience raises important issues about justice being done, and being seen to be done. It is vital that the government reviews the case and scrutinises the behaviour of the CPS.
“There was clear video evidence that doctors were willing to offer abortion on the grounds of the child being the ‘wrong’ gender. That is against the law and yet the CPS refused to prosecute, refused to release important video evidence and then squashed my attempt to fight for justice. Now I have been landed with a huge costs order which I cannot pay.
“The CPS conceded that there was sufficient evidence for a prosecution. It was reasonable for me to test the law in the courts. Now I’m being punished for doing so.
“I cannot pay these punitive costs. I will be asking the court to set them aside. If these costs remain, they will be perceived as a huge hurdle to ordinary citizens pursuing justice.
“Gender-abortion is a horrible practice. I brought prosecutions because those who should have done so were turning a blind eye.
“We have seen the establishment stand silent in the face of the abortion industry, hoping that the horrors will be swept under the carpet and the problems go away. But justice demands that something is done and that people are held to account for their actions. The law can only protect if it is enforced.
“The failure of the DPP to take action gives the impression that we have abortion on demand, for whatever reason.”
‘On behalf of the unborn’
Andrea Minichiello Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre which continues to support Aisling, added:
“The office of the DPP was created to ensure that justice was done even where individuals didn’t have the resolve or resource to pursue a prosecution themselves. But here we have seen the DPP’s office first refuse to prosecute and then go further still by blocking private prosecutions that were brought, as a last resort, in the pursuit of justice. This overreach of establishment power must be challenged.
“Aisling Hubert has been trying to bring to account two doctors who were prepared to break the law and allow the abortion of baby girls. Her attempts to seek justice have been persistently and vociferously undermined by the CPS. At all stages of this case, there have been major challenges, but Aisling has been determined to carry on and speak on behalf of the unborn child.
“It is an honour to stand with Aisling and support her in her attempt to expose the evils of gender-abortion and pursue justice in this matter.
“We will support her in her forthcoming court appearance where she will argue that the imposed costs are disproportionate and punitive, particularly because it’s unusual for costs to be awarded at all against a citizen who brings a private prosecution.
“We hope Aisling will now be treated kindly in court and that a just outcome will be reached.”