Hazel Lewis, a London street preacher, is planning to sue the Metropolitan Police. In February 2020, she was arrested while expressing her soteriological religious beliefs — to which passers-by took offence. When it comes to faith, after all, one man’s creed is another’s misdeed. Referring to people as “sinners” may be a Biblical truth to one, and an arrest-worthy offence to another.
Last month, 18 months after the arrest, a district judge found that there was no case to answer — a ruling reserved for prosecutions so bereft of evidence that no reasonable tribunal of fact could convict based on a proper understanding of the law.
Frequent ordeals such as this beg the question: are you free to speak in public, even if I find your comments insulting?
Insult is a dangerously subjective threshold for censoring debate. According to the “Feel free to insult me” campaign, you are free, and have been since 2014. The coalition of secularists, comedians, faith groups and LGBT-activists successfully campaigned against the criminalisation of “insulting” speech in section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986, which made it an offence to use “threatening, insulting or abusive” words or behaviour.
Continue reading “More must be done to protect free speech” by Jeremiah Igunnubole (The Times).