Nobody should be criminalised simply for expressing their faith.

Rosa was arrested for taking a prayer walk as part of her daily exercise during lockdown.

We supported in challenging her fine,
because everyone can pray in a public space.

Free speech won out in the end
as her fine was successfully overturned.

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I never thought that in a democratic country like the UK, I would be arrested for a simple and solitary prayer walk.”

- Rosa Lalor

Rosa was unfairly charged under coronavirus regulations for being on a prayer walk during her allotted time of exercise.

During lockdown in 2021, Rosa – a Liverpudlian grandmother – was careful to follow the rules. She took a walk most days as part of her allotted exercise time. She walked alone, and even wore a non-mandatory mask for the activity, to be extra careful.

At 76, Rosa had never been a lawbreaker.

Until one day, on her daily walk, she was arrested.

Whilst she was walking, Rosa had been praying. Silently. In the privacy of her own mind, with headphones in. She walked near an abortion facility, as she prayed about the issue that was on her mind. She was masked, socially distanced, and alone.

A police officer stopped her and asked why she was out of her house, at a time when reasons to be outside were very limited.

“I’m walking and praying”, she answered.

The officer said Rosa wasn’t praying in a place of worship. She didn’t have a “reasonable excuse” to be outdoors. She was there to “protest”, he said.

“Caught” praying masked, alone and walking outside, Rosa was arrested, detained in a police car, charged and fined under a temporary coronavirus regulatory measure that sought to ban activities on the street for the sake of public health.

Nobody should be criminalised simply for expressing their faith in public.

Merseyside Police have now conceded that such detention was wrong, and that Lalor was acting within her rights, indeed having a “reasonable excuse” to be outdoors praying.

“I’m delighted that the prosecution has finally dropped this charge after a long and exhausting battle for justice. I took this challenge forward with support from ADF UK to show that we do all have a fundamental right to pray – not least pray as I did, in the privacy of my own mind. It was wrong for the police officer to tell me that I could not pray in a public street. It’s important for officers to respect basic religious freedom, and improve their understanding of how that right manifests, in order to maintain a truly tolerant society,” commented Lalor.

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