A Christian man who was arrested in early August while “peacefully praying” outside an abortion clinic in a suburb of London has had the charges against him dropped, says Christian Concern.
Christian Hacking, 29, was arrested in August for allegedly violating a buffer zone outside a clinic in the community of Ealing. The zone had been established by a local city council that apparently views prayer as provocative and harmful.
Hacking pleaded not guilty and was set to go on trial Nov. 5. Last week he received a letter, however, stating that the case would no longer go forward due to a lack of “enough evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction.”
Christian Concern, a Christian legal defense nonprofit, said, “the arrest and case, revealed by police body camera footage, raises the question of whether praying in a public space now constitutes ‘harassment’ and whether buffer zones around abortion clinics breach freedom of expression, religion and thought.”
The exclusion zone, upheld by the Court of Appeal in October 2019, prohibits a range of activities within 100 meters of the clinic and even outlaws prayer. It states: “[people must not engage] in any act of approval/disapproval or attempted act of approval/disapproval, with respect to issues related to abortion services, by any means. This includes but is not limited to graphic, verbal or written means, prayer or counselling.”
Despite being warned by the police that merely being on the green outside of the clinic constitutes breaking the PSPO, Hacking said in response: “I’m going to continue praying. I’m in this place because they’re killing human beings inside this clinic, it is against the law to ban anyone praying anywhere in this land. The PSPO has been built upon false grounds, false harassment, fake news, I don’t respect it. I don’t think you have a constitutional right to stop someone from praying.”