After a secret court hearing last Friday, Nottingham City Council has served a no-notice injunction preventing Dr John Edwards, the local organiser of the Nottingham 40 Days for Life Vigil, from participating in the Vigil until further notice.
The 40 Days for Life Vigil has been taking place on Leen Gate, outside the grounds of QMC Hospital in Nottingham, for the 40 days of Lent.
Dr Edwards (who is separately involved in the SPUC Nottingham branch) was not given any opportunity to defend himself against the injunction. He has written about the intimidation and abuse the vigil participants have faced from pro-abortion protesters throughout the campaign.
The injunction imposed last week only applies to Dr Edwards, and does not stop the Vigil continuing. However, the council has said it will return to court tomorrow (23 March), in an attempt to widen it to include other members of the Vigil.
Leaders of the Vigil have have vowed to fight what they have described as an “unwarranted attack by Nottingham City Council”. A spokeswoman said: “This is nothing less than an act of bullying by Nottingham City Council aimed at preventing a respected member of the community from exercising his basic rights to freedom of expression and to pray in public. For the Council to take this action against Dr Edwards without giving him a chance to defend himself is particularly disgraceful.
No evidence of “harassment”
“Nowhere in the Court documents is there any suggestion that Dr Edwards or any other participant in the vigil has said or done anything abusive or insulting to anyone visiting or working in the Hospital,” she continued. “The documents provided by the Council to the Court actually acknowledge that our Vigil has been completely peaceful at all times and that any disturbance has been created by pro-abortion counter protesters. This has been confirmed in writing by the police so it is difficult to understand why the Council have chosen to target a respected member of a peaceful vigil.”
Where does it end?
“We have had many expressions of support from patients and people working at QMC who are grateful for our presence,” the statement says. “Abortion is a sensitive and difficult subject and of course not everyone agrees with our view. The issues here are about freedom of speech and the right of citizens to hold peaceful protests. The Human Rights Act makes clear that all people have the right to express their views and to exercise their religion in a public space as long as they do so peacefully. If the Council is successful in stopping Dr Edwards from participating in our Vigil, then every peaceful protest will be at risk, whether on environmental issues, animal rights, or nuclear weapons.
“Dr Edwards is determined to fight this unwarranted attack by Nottingham City Council on his human rights and we are sure that justice will prevail. We call upon the Council to stop their bullying attempts to interfere with free speech immediately.”
LifeNews Note: Courtesy of SPUC. The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children is a leading pro-life organziation in the United Kingdom.