- VERDICTS ANTICIPATED: Priest and charity volunteer both charged for praying silently near closed abortion facility will face court in joint hearing, Thursday 16th Feb
- Press address immediately after court hearing, scheduled for 10am at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court
BIRMINGHAM (13 February 2023) – The cases of the charitable volunteer and the Catholic priest both criminally charged for praying near a closed abortion facility are scheduled to be heard together at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court this Thursday, 16th February at 10am.
The video of Isabel Vaughan-Spruce’s search, interrogation, and arrest, in which Vaughan-Spruce stated that she “might be praying” inside her head outside a closed abortion facility, went viral in December.
On a separate occasion, Father Sean Gough prayed outside the same abortion facility while carrying a sign reading “praying for free speech”. For peacefully supporting free speech within the censorship zone, Father Sean Gough was charged with “intimidating service-users” of the abortion facility. This was despite the fact that all this happened while the abortion facility was closed.
A further charge related to parking his car, which for some time has had on it a small “unborn lives matter” bumper sticker, within the same area.
In both cases, the Crown Prosecution Service dropped charges due to “insufficient evidence,” but also made clear that the charges “may well start again” in the near future subject to further evidential review. This is a warning prosecutors can issue when they expect that further evidence will be received. It is as a result of this legal ambiguity, and a hope of clearing their names, that Vaughan-Spruce and Fr Gough have pursued clarity in court.
Vaughan-Spruce, Father Gough and Jeremiah Igunnubole, legal counsel for ADF UK who are supporting the case, will give short statements in response to the ruling upon leaving the court.
WHEN: Immediately following hearing scheduled 10am
WHERE: Birmingham Magistrates’ Court
STATEMENTS BY: Father Sean Gough, Isabel Vaughan-Spruce, Jeremiah Igunnubole
Jeremiah Igunnubole, Legal Counsel for ADF UK, which is supporting the defense of Isabel Vaughan-Spruce and Father Sean Gough commented:
“It is crucial that the Court issue a clear legal verdict in the cases of Isabel Vaughan-Spruce and Father Sean Gough. As our Parliament continues to debate the national rollout of censorship zones across England and Wales, it is imperative that we receive legal clarity given even the police and prosecution services can’t agree on what is and is not a crime. The reality is that every person should have their freedom to think or peacefully express themselves – including through prayer, or an offer of help to women facing crisis pregnancies – without running the risk of prosecution under vaguely worded and entirely disproportionate censorship zones”.
Watch the viral video of Isabel Vaughan-Spruce’s arrest here: