British police have apologised to a pro-life campaigner for taking six months to decide to drop charges after she was arrested for silently praying.
Isabel Vaughan-Spruce was detained within a buffer zone near a Birmingham abortion clinic in March when she was told by police officers: “You said you’ve been engaging in prayer, which is the offence.”
The decision not to prosecute her was only made last month.
Christian Today reports it followed a letter to all police from the UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman which sought to clarify that “silent prayer, within itself, is not unlawful” and that “holding lawful opinions, even if those opinions may offend others, is not a criminal offence.”
The March arrest of Ms. Vaughan-Spruce came just weeks after she was cleared of all charges in a separate, but similar case relating to silent prayer.
After the dropping of the latest charges, she said: “I welcome West Midland Police’s decision to end their investigation and their apology for the time it took to do so. It’s important to highlight the extremely harmful implications of this ordeal, not just for myself, but for everyone concerned with fundamental freedoms in the UK. What happened to me signals to others that they too could face arrest, interrogation, investigation, and potential prosecution if caught exercising their basic freedom of thought.”
“This isn’t 1984, but 2023. I should never have been arrested or investigated simply for the thoughts I held in my own mind. Silent prayer is never criminal. Now that authorities have twice settled on the conclusion that silent prayer is not a crime – a conclusion also reached by the Home Secretary last week – I am thankful to resume my practice of praying silently for women in crisis pregnancies,” she concluded.
Her legal counsel, Jeremiah Igunnubole of Alliance Defending Freedom UK, said: “The arduous process of this criminal ordeal has been the punishment for Isabel. Moreover, her story has put the world on notice that fundamental freedoms are vulnerable in the UK.”
“There is now an urgent need for legal changes to stem the tide of policing by politics. We hope the decision from West Midlands Police that they will not prosecute free thought, alongside the Home Secretary’s public commitment to protecting silent prayer, will be reflected in legislation, guidance, and practice,” he asserted.
Photo: Alliance Defending Freedom UK